Advertisement

Sex Roles

, Volume 81, Issue 5–6, pp 306–325 | Cite as

Transnormativity and Transgender Identity Development: A Master Narrative Approach

  • Nova J. BradfordEmail author
  • Moin Syed
Original Article

Abstract

Despite rapidly shifting social dynamics and the recent increase in scholarship on transgender identity development, existing research on transgender identity has been theoretically isolated from the broader study of identity. This study involved a series of 4 qualitative focus groups (n = 15 participants), conducted in the United States, to identify master and alternative narratives guiding transgender identity development and explore the mechanisms by which transgender individuals navigate and negotiate with these narrative constraints. Results suggest that (a) transnormativity is best conceptualized as a hegemonic alternative narrative that resists the master narrative of cisnormativity, which asserts that cisgender identities are “normal” or “standard”; (b) the components of transnormativity go beyond those which have been previously described in the literature; (c) individuals negotiate with transnormativity through both resisting transnormativity and conceding to transnormativity; and (d) border wars within the trans community form on the basis of these opposing and contradictory processes of resisting and conceding. Results demonstrate the applicability of the Master Narrative framework for studying transgender identity development and the important role of master and alternative narratives of in shaping the lives and experiences of transpeople. Psychotherapists can use these findings to engage clients in re-authoring conversations to affirm the legitimacy of clients’ unique identity experiences.

Keywords

Identity development Transgender Transnormativity Gender identity Master narratives Identification Focus groups 

Notes

Funding

This study was funded by the Sharon Borine Research Award, as well as departmental funds of the University of Minnesota Department of Psychology.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflicts of Interest

The authors have no conflicts of interest to declare, either financial or non-financial.

Informed Consent

All participants were over the age of 18, and informed consent was collected in writing by each participant. Approval for the study was granted by the Institutional Review Board of the University of Minnesota Twin Cities.

Supplementary material

11199_2018_992_MOESM1_ESM.docx (18 kb)
ESM 1 (DOCX 17 kb)

References

  1. Andrés, A. M., & Marzo, P. F. (2004). Delta: A new measure of agreement between two raters. British Journal of Mathematical and Statistical Psychology, 57(1), 1–19.  https://doi.org/10.1348/000711004849268.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  2. Bamberg, M. (2004). Form and functions of ‘slut bashing’ in male identity constructions in 15-year-olds. Human Development, 47(6), 331–353.  https://doi.org/10.1159/000081036.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Barr, S. M., Budge, S. L., & Adelson, J. L. (2016). Transgender community belongingness as a mediator between strength of transgender identity and well-being. Journal of Counseling Psychology, 63, 87–97.  https://doi.org/10.1037/cou0000127.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  4. Bauer, G. R., Hammond, R., Travers, R., Kaay, M., Hohenadel, K. M., & Boyce, M. (2009). “I don’t think this is theoretical; this is our lives”: How erasure impacts health care for transgender people. Journal of the Association of Nurses in AIDS Care, 20(5), 348–361.  https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jana.2009.07.004.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  5. Bettcher, T. M. (2014). Trapped in the wrong theory: Rethinking trans oppression and resistance. Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society, 39(2), 383–406.  https://doi.org/10.1086/673088.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Bettie, J. (2002). Exceptions to the rule: Upwardly mobile white and Mexican American high school girls. Gender and Society, 16(3), 403–422.  https://doi.org/10.1177/0891243202016003008.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Bilodeau, B. L. (2005). Beyond the gender binary: A case study of two transgender students at a midwestern research university. Journal of Gay & Lesbian Issues in Education, 3(1), 29–44.  https://doi.org/10.1300/J367v03n01.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Bockting, W. O. (2014). Transgender identity development. In D. L. Tolman & L. Diamond (Eds.), APA handbook of sexuality and psychology (pp. 739–758). Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.  https://doi.org/10.1037/14193-024.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Bradford, N. J., Rider, G. N., Catalpa, J. M., Morrow, Q. J., Berg, D. R., Spencer, K. G., … McGuire, J. K. (2018). Creating gender: A thematic analysis of genderqueer narratives. International Journal of Transgenderism. Advance online publication.  https://doi.org/10.1080/15532739.2018.1474516.
  10. Braun, V., & Clarke, V. (2006). Using thematic analysis in psychology. Qualitative Research in Psychology, 3(2), 77–101.  https://doi.org/10.1191/1478088706qp063oa.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Catalpa, J. M., & McGuire, J. K. (2018). Family boundary ambiguity among transgender youth. Family Relations, 67(1), 88–103.  https://doi.org/10.1111/fare.12304.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Coard, S. I., Breland, A. M., & Raskin, P. (2001). Perceptions of and preferences for skin color, Black racial identity, and self-esteem among African Americans. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 31(11), 2256–2274.  https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1559-1816.2001.tb00174.x.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Cohler, B. J., & Hammack, P. L. (2006). Making a gay identity: Life story and the construction of a coherent self. In D. P. McAdams, R. Josselson, & A. Lieblich (Eds.), Identity and story: Creating self in narrative (pp. 151–172). Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.  https://doi.org/10.1037/11414-007.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Cross, W. E., Jr., Parham, T. A., & Helms, J. E. (1991). The stages of black identity development: Nigrescence models. In R. L. Jones (Ed.), Black psychology (3rd ed., pp. 319–338). Berkeley: Cobb & Henry Publishers.Google Scholar
  15. Davies, B., & Harré, R. (1990). Positioning: The discursive production of selves. Journal for the Theory of Social Behaviour, 20(1), 43–63.  https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1468-5914.1990.tb00174.x.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Devor, A. H. (2004). Witnessing and mirroring: A fourteen stage model of transsexual identity formation. Journal of Gay and Lesbian Psychotherapy, 8(1–2), 41–67.  https://doi.org/10.1300/J236v08n01_05.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. dickey, l. m., Reisner, S. L., & Juntunen, C. L. (2015). Non-suicidal self-injury in a large online sample of transgender adults. Professional Psychology: Research and Practice, 46, 3–11.  https://doi.org/10.1037/a0038803.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Dunne, M. J., Raynor, L. A., Cottrell, E. K., & Pinnock, W. J. A. (2017). Interviews with patients and providers on transgender and gender nonconforming health data collection in the electronic health record. Transgender Health, 2(1), 1–7.  https://doi.org/10.1089/trgh.2016.0041.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  19. Epston, D., & White, M. (1990). Narrative means to therapeutic ends. New York: WW Norton & Co..Google Scholar
  20. Erikson, E. H. (1968). Identity, youth, and crisis. New York: WW Norton & Co..Google Scholar
  21. Flores, A. R. (2015). Attitudes toward transgender rights: Perceived knowledge and secondary interpersonal contact. Politics, Groups, and Identities, 3(3), 398–416.  https://doi.org/10.1080/21565503.2015.1050414.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. French, S. E., Seidman, E., Allen, L., & Aber, J. L. (2006). The development of ethnic identity during adolescence. Developmental Psychology, 42(1), 1–10.  https://doi.org/10.1037/0012-1649.42.1.1.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Gwet, K. L. (2014). Handbook of inter-rater reliability: The definitive guide to measuring the extent of agreement among raters. Gaithersburg: Advanced Analytics, LLC.Google Scholar
  24. Halberstam, J. (1998). Butch/FTM border wars and the masculine continuum. GLQ: A Journal of Lesbian and Gay Studies, 4(2), 287–310.  https://doi.org/10.1215/10642684-4-2-287.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Hammack, P. L. (2008). Narrative and the cultural psychology of identity. Personality and Social Psychology Review, 12(3), 222–247.  https://doi.org/10.1177/1088868308316892.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Holloway, W. (1984). Gender difference and the production of subjectivity. In J. Henriques, W. Holloway, C. Urwin, C. Venn, & V. Walkerdine (Eds.), Changing the subject: Psychology, social regulation, and subjectivity (pp. 227–263). London: Methuen.Google Scholar
  27. James, S. E., Herman, J. L., Rankin, S., Keisling, M., Mottet, L., & Anafi, M. (2016). The report of the 2015 U.S. transgender survey. Washington, DC: National Center for Transgender Equality.Google Scholar
  28. Johnson, A. H. (2016). Transnormativity: A new concept and its validation through documentary film about transgender men. Sociological Inquiry, 86(4), 465–491.  https://doi.org/10.1111/soin.12127.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Korobov, N. (2010). A discursive psychological approach to positioning. Qualitative Research in Psychology, 7(3), 263–277.  https://doi.org/10.1080/14780880902822321.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. LaPointe, K. (2010). Narrating career, positioning identity: Career identity as a narrative practice. Journal of Vocational Behavior, 77(1), 1–9.  https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jvb.2010.04.003.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Levitt, H. M., & Ippolito, M. R. (2014). Being transgender: The experience of transgender identity development. Journal of Homosexuality, 61(12), 1727–1758.  https://doi.org/10.1080/00918369.2014.951262.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  32. Marcia, J. E. (1966). Development and validation of ego identity status. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 3(5), 551–558.  https://doi.org/10.1037/h0023281.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. McAdams, D. P. (2006). The redemptive self: Generativity and the stories Americans live by. Research in Human Development, 3(2–3), 81–100.  https://doi.org/10.1080/15427609.2006.9683363.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. McAdams, D. P. (2013). The redemptive self: Stories Americans live by. New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  35. McAdams, D. P., & McLean, K. C. (2013). Narrative identity. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 22(3), 233–238.  https://doi.org/10.1177/0963721413475622.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. McAdams, D. P., & Zapata-Gietl, C. (2015). Three strands of identity development across the human life course: Reading Erik Erikson in full. In K. C. McLean & M. Syed (Eds.), The Oxford handbook of identity development (pp. 81–94). New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  37. McAdams, D. P., Booth, L., & Selvik, R. (1981). Religious identity among students at a private college: Social motives, ego stage, and development. Merrill-Palmer Quarterly of Behavior and Development, 27(3), 219–239. Retrieved from https://www.jstor.org/stable/23083983.Google Scholar
  38. McDermott, M., & Samson, F. L. (2005). White racial and ethnic identity in the United States. Annual Review of Sociology, 31, 245–261.  https://doi.org/10.1146/annurev.soc.31.041304.122322.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. McGuire, J. K., Beek, T., Catalpa, J. M., & Steensma, T. D. (2017). The genderqueer identity scale (GQI): Measurement and validation of four distinct sub-scales with trans and LGBQ clinical and community samples in two countries. International Journal of Transgenderism. Advance online publication.  https://doi.org/10.1080/15532739.2018.1460735.
  40. McHugh, M. L. (2012). Interrater reliability: The kappa statistic. Biochemia Medica, 22(3), 276–282. Retrieved from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3900052/.PubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  41. McKinnon, R. (2014). Stereotype threat and attributional ambiguity for trans women. Hypatia: A Journal of Feminist Philosophy, 29(4), 857–872.  https://doi.org/10.1111/hypa.12097.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. McLean, K. C., & Syed, M. (2015). Personal, master, and alternative narratives: An integrative framework for understanding identity development in context. Human Development, 58(6), 318–349.  https://doi.org/10.1159/000445817.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. McLean, K. C., Lilgendahl, J. P., Fordham, C., Alpert, E., Marsden, E., Szymanowski, K., … McAdams, D. (2017a). Identity development in cultural context: The role of deviating from master narratives. Journal of Personality, 86(4), 1–20.  https://doi.org/10.1111/jopy.12341.
  44. McLean, K. C., Shucard, H., & Syed, M. (2017b). Applying the master narrative framework to gender identity development in emerging adulthood. Emerging Adulthood, 5(2), 93–105.  https://doi.org/10.1177/2167696816656254.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Meeus, W. (2011). The study of adolescent identity formation 2000-2010: A review of longitudinal research. Journal of Research on Adolescence, 21(1), 75–94.  https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1532-7795.2010.00716.x.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Nicolazzo, Z. (2016). ‘It’s a hard line to walk’: Black non-binary trans* collegians’ perspectives on passing, realness, and trans*-normativity. International Journal of Qualitative Studies in Education, 29(9), 1173–1188.  https://doi.org/10.1080/09518398.2016.1201612.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Nuttbrock, L., Bockting, W., Rosenblum, A., Hwahng, S., Mason, M., Macri, M., … Becker, J. (2015). Transgender community involvement and the psychological impact of abuse among transgender women. Psychology of Sexual Orientation and Gender Diversity, 2, 386–390.  https://doi.org/10.1037/sgd0000126.
  48. Pasupathi, M., Mansour, E., & Brubaker, J. R. (2007). Developing a life story: Constructing relations between self and experience in autobiographical narratives. Human Development, 50(2–3), 85–110.  https://doi.org/10.1159/000100939.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Roberts, T. S., Horne, S. G., & Hoyt, W. T. (2015). Between a gay and a straight place: Bisexual individuals’ experiences with monosexism. Journal of Bisexuality, 15(4), 554–569.  https://doi.org/10.1080/15299716.2015.1111183.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Sánchez, F. J., & Vilain, E. (2009). Collective self-esteem as a coping resource for male-to-female transsexuals. Journal of Counseling Psychology, 56, 202–209.  https://doi.org/10.1037/a0014573.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  51. Sarbin, T. R. (1986). The narrative as a root metaphor for psychology. In T. R. Sarbin (Ed.), Narrative psychology: The storied nature of human conduct (pp. 3–21). Westport: Praeger.Google Scholar
  52. Schwartz, B. (2009). Collective forgetting and the symbolic power of oneness: The strange apotheosis of Rosa Parks. Social Psychology Quarterly, 72(2), 123–142.  https://doi.org/10.1177/019027250907200204.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Sevelius, J. M. (2013). Gender affirmation: A framework for conceptualizing risk behavior among transgender women of color. Sex Roles, 68(11–12), 675–689.  https://doi.org/10.1007/s11199-012-0216-5.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Sirin, S. R., Bikmen, N., Mir, M., Fine, M., Zaal, M., & Katsiaficas, D. (2008). Exploring dual identification among Muslim-American emerging adults: A mixed methods study. Journal of Adolescence, 31(2), 259–279.  https://doi.org/10.1016/j.adolescence.2007.10.009.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  55. Stanton, S. C. E., & Campbell, L. (2014). Perceived social support moderates the link between attachment anxiety and health outcomes. PLoS One, 9(4).  https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0095358.
  56. Suess, A., Espineira, K., & Walters, P. C. (2014). Depathologization. Transgender Studies Quarterly, 1(1–2), 73–77.  https://doi.org/10.1215/23289252-2399650.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Syed, M., & Nelson, S. C. (2015). Guidelines for establishing reliability when coding narrative data. Emerging Adulthood, 3(6), 375–387.  https://doi.org/10.1177/2167696815587648.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. Tate, C. C., Youssef, C. P., & Bettergarcia, J. N. (2014). Integrating the study of transgender spectrum and cisgender experiences of self-categorization from a personality perspective. Review of General Psychology, 18, 302–312.  https://doi.org/10.1037/gpr0000019.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. Tatum, B. D. (2004). Family life and school experience: Factors in the racial identity development of Black youth in White communities. Journal of Social Issues, 60(1), 117–135.  https://doi.org/10.1111/j.0022-4537.2004.00102.x.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  60. Testa, R. J., Jimenez, C. L., & Rankin, S. (2014). Risk and resilience during transgender identity development: The effects of awareness and engagement with other transgender people on affect. Journal of Gay and Lesbian Mental Health, 18(1), 31–46.  https://doi.org/10.1080/19359705.2013.805177.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  61. Toolis, E. E., & Hammack, P. L. (2015). The lived experience of homeless youth : A narrative approach. Qualitative Psychology, 2(1), 50–68.Google Scholar
  62. Umaña-Taylor, A. J., Quintana, S. M., Lee, R. M., Cross, W. E., Jr., Rivas-Drake, D., Schwartz, S. J., … Sellers, R. M. (2014). Ethnic and racial identity during adolescence and into young adulthood: An integrated conceptualization. Child Development, 85(1), 21–39.  https://doi.org/10.1111/cdev.12196.
  63. Vandiver, B. J., Fhagen-Smith, P. E., Cokley, K., Cross, W. E., Jr., & Worrell, F. C. (2001). Cross’s Nigrescence model: From theory to scale to theory. Journal of Multicultural Counseling and Development, 29(July), 174–200.Google Scholar
  64. Vipond, E. (2015). Resisting Transnormativity: Challenging the medicalization and regulation of trans bodies. Theory in Action, 8(2), 21–44.  https://doi.org/10.3798/tia.1937-0237.15008.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  65. Vitter, J. S. (1985). Random sampling with a reservoir. ACM Transactions on Mathematical Software, 11(1), 37–57.  https://doi.org/10.1145/3147.3165.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  66. Whisman, V. (1995). Queer by choice: Lesbians, gay men, and the politics of identity. New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  67. Wilkinson, S. (1998). Focus group methodology: A review. International Journal of Social Research Methodology, 1(3), 181–203.  https://doi.org/10.1080/13645579.1998.10846874.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PsychologyUniversity of MinnesotaMinneapolisUSA
  2. 2.Department of Social WorkUniversity of MinnesotaSt. PaulUSA

Personalised recommendations