Electronic Theses and Dissertations





Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education



Committee Chair

Dan Lustig

Committee Member

Nancy Nishimura

Committee Member

Susan Nordstrom

Committee Member

Elin Ovrebo


In this transgender theory life story study, I interviewed male-to-female transgender participants who transitioned between the ages of 40-55, within the last 5 years, and while residing in an urban city in the Mid-South to learn more about the sociocultural and discursive influences of their gendered and embodied experiences. I utilized transgender theory as a lens to view gender transitioning. This theory holds that discourse is contrived and identity is fluid, contextual, and mulifarious and that some voices are silenced because of exclusionary societal practices and systems of belief. The longer that a person is subjected to these oppressive systems the harder it can be to move beyond them. This can make acceptance of those who transition as well as transitioning at an older age all the more challenging. I used transgender theory as my primary theory because it takes into account the unique experiences of transgender preople, recognizes that sex and gender are not one in the same, questions essential notions of gender and gender identity, and challenges the gender binary. It also purports that identifying with one's oppressed identity can be empowering and a strong catalyst for personal and social change. I used poststructuralism and queer theory in this study to examine concepts of power, discourse, and knowledge about gender. Poststructuralism and queer theory are highly skeptical of any claims of (capital T) Truths and incompatible to any asertion that one or another interpretation of reality is the only way in which it may be understood. I engaged in narrative analysis as outlined by Hole (2007) and Ezzy (2002) and creative analytic practice as described by Richardson (1994) in order to analyze the data as well as amplify the voices of the participants as they detailed their personal journeys of negotiating restrictive discourse. The data from the interviews were then turned into narratives that described the participants embodied, social, and personal experiences with transitioning. Additionally, the participants were also asked to write "Dear Counselor" letters sharing what they thought would be important for counselors to know when working with adults who transitioned later in life.


Data is provided by the student.

Library Comment

dissertation or thesis originally submitted to the local University of Memphis Electronic Theses & dissertation (ETD) Repository.