Date of Award


Degree Name

Master of Arts




Ophra Leyser-Whalen


Seventeen individuals (4 trans men, 2 trans women, and 11 nonbinary people) were interviewed in this exploratory study on how transgender and nonbinary people feel about their bodies, and the role that social support plays in their experiences and feelings about their bodies. Semi-structured interviews revealed themes, including how transgender and nonbinary people interact with social support, their motivations for gender affirming medical interventions, and non-medical ways in which they alter their physical appearance. Participants reported a variety of experiences within their body across the spectrum of human experience: in some cases, individuals changed their weights dramatically; others felt strong detachment from their body. Clothing, and how one dresses, was another non-medical way of altering the physical appearance, with social implications. Social support does not eliminate the negative feelings associated with gender incongruence, but social affirmation of gender and social support do improve general quality of life and allows individuals to feel seen and treated as they really are. Support came from a number of avenues, including friends, health professionals, peers, colleagues, and online communities. Individuals that had some form of health support, such as therapists, reported more positive attitudes towards their body and greater self-acceptance of their body and gender identity. This study builds on existing research that indicates that gender affirming medicine, and social support play an integral role in how transgender and nonbinary feel about their bodies. This study also adds to the literature that indicates that the experiences of transgender and nonbinary people are quite divergent, and that future research should view them as separate identities when attempting to reflect the true and lived experiences of these populations.




Received from ProQuest

File Size

103 pages

File Format


Rights Holder

Hannah Penklis

Included in

Sociology Commons