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Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/1860/3657

Title: The Use of Art and Interview to Explore the Transgender Person’s Experience of Gender Transition: A Phenomenological Study
Authors: Maher, Amanda L.
Keywords: Art Therapy;Gender;Interviewing
Issue Date: 9-Dec-2011
Abstract: The purpose of this study was to explore the transgender person’s social and psychological experience of gender transition. The study sought to better understand what it means to be transgender, and what it is like to transition gender. Transgender people face a number of social challenges including diminished quality of life, problems obtaining health care, high rates of HIV/AIDS when compared to the general public, high rates of suicide ideation and suicide attempts when compared to the general public, and low self-esteem. It is intended that the study inform mental health professionals as well as art therapists as to the specific implications of working with transgender people and people transitioning gender, in order to form better treatment interventions, and to better understand the therapeutic relationship. Three African American transgender women were recruited to participate in the study. Data consisted of a demographic survey, an art process, and an open-ended responsive interview. Data was analyzed using phenomenological research methods. Six common themes emerged from the verbal data: 1) Importance of Identity, 2) Role of Family, 3) Dislike of Labels, 4) Transphobia and Societal Issues, 5) Courage to Transition, and 6) Hormones and/or Surgical Interventions as a Part of Transition. In addition, four common themes were identified in the artwork: 1) Identity, 2) Identity formation/evolution, 3) Change, and 4) Restricted Affect. The data suggest that identity and the self play an essential role in the process and experience of gender transition, and that the understanding of the self and the process of transgender identity development are modulated by the role of family, experiences of transphobia, and societal issues. The label ‘transgender’ was found to obviate identity and encroach upon outward expression of the self. Hormonal and surgical interventions were found to be essential in the process of expressing internal gender identity. The data suggested that the use of the Bridge Drawing and the experience of gender transition drawing would aid transgender clients in verbalizing their social and psychological experience of their gender transitions, making them a useful tool in working with and supporting this population.
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/1860/3657
Appears in Collections:Health Sciences Theses and Dissertations

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