Date of Award

Fall 2018

Document Type

Honors Thesis



First Advisor

Dr. Leah Seurer

Second Advisor

Dr. Jae Puckett

Third Advisor

Dr. Kelly McKay-Semmler


Trans, Acceptance, LGBTQ+, Grounded Theory, Social Support, Communication Privacy Management, Gender Minority Stress and Resilience


The rate of suicide attempts among trans (i.e., transgender) people is astronomically high, which is largely a result of the stigma and discrimination they face. However, when trans people experience acceptance, their rate of mental health problems declines to mirror the cisgender population. Despite this established importance of acceptance, the literature on trans experiences has failed to rigorously define the communicative aspects of acceptance. This qualitative study analyzes interviews with trans people using grounded theory to determine how trans people articulate experiencing acceptance. Results indicate a process of change—preceded by and upheld through willingness—that focuses on enacting change in three areas: the self (through doing research and performing emotional labor); the relationship (through being available, adapting language, and adapting to the trans person’s needs); and society (through advocating interpersonally and recognizing trans identities beyond trans spaces). Implications for this study include a breakthrough in the burgeoning field of trans communication research that ultimately results in a theory of trans identity acceptance; practically, these results facilitate the construction of a trans-inclusive society and encourage the building of fulfilling relationships across differing identities.



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