Friendships in the lives of transgender individuals

PhD Thesis

Zitz, C. 2011. Friendships in the lives of transgender individuals. PhD Thesis Canterbury Christ Church University Department of Applied Psychology
AuthorsZitz, C.
TypePhD Thesis
Qualification nameDClinPsychol

Section A provides a literature review of transgender people and their friendships. The first part of the literature review explores the historical context of transgenderism and its relation to medical and psychiatric diagnosis. The following part concentrates on biopsychsocial issues of transgender identity formation highlighting the need for support in light of interpersonal losses and societal discrimination. The final part reviews the friendship literature more generally, then specifically in relation to transgender persons. The review concludes by identifying an absence of friendship research with transgender individuals and suggesting directions for future research.
Section B describes a study carried out with seven trans men, which investigates discourses they use to construct friendships and negotiate intimacy within friendships. While research focusing on friendships of sexual minority individuals has increased over the last two decades, studies of transgender persons’ friendships have been largely absent. Given that trans individuals are vulnerable to a range of psychological stressors in the context of societal lack of understanding and discrimination, friendships may be particularly important. This study explored the gap in the friendship literature and drew on creative methodologies (drawing of systems maps) that offered empowering strategies to facilitate trans men’s stories of friendships. Foucauldian Discourse Analysis was applied to analyse discourses of friendship and gender identity. Dominant discourses identified included ‘friends as family’, ‘romantic love’, ‘equality and reciprocity’, ‘change in lesbian friendships’ and ‘disowning male privilege’. The results indicate that trans men elevate the status of friends to those of other culturally dominant relationships (e.g. biological family or sexual partner). Furthermore, their friendships, in particular lesbian friendships, can become complex platforms from which to contest privilege and power associated with their (trans) masculinities. Implications for further research and clinical practice are discussed.
Section C provides a critical appraisal of the study and offers the researcher’s reflections on research skills developed, what she would do differently if she could do the project again, how the research may impact her clinically and what further research she would like to carry out.

KeywordsFriendship, Discourse analysis, Transgender, Trans man, Masculinity, Creative methodology, Gender identity
Publication process dates
Deposited18 Nov 2011
SubmittedSep 2011
Output statusUnpublished
Accepted author manuscript
Permalink -

Download files

Accepted author manuscript

Restricted files

Supplemental file

  • 22
    total views
  • 7
    total downloads
  • 0
    views this month
  • 0
    downloads this month

Export as