Publication Date

Spring 2018

Advisor(s) - Committee Chair

Ann K. Ferrell (Director), Tim Evans, and Kate Parker Horigan

Degree Program

Department of Folk Studies and Anthropology

Degree Type

Master of Arts


This thesis focuses on various topics related to transgender identity and culture. Through a combination of ethnographic and secondary research, I studied transgender coming out narratives, trans media representation, transgender performance and identity, and conceptualizations of group and chosen family in a community of trans students, the WKU Transgender and Non-Binary Student Group.

The three chapters of my thesis address some of the traditional milestones of a trans person’s acculturation: coming out, constructing one’s newly discovered trans identity, and finding community. Chapter 1 explores coming out as transgender, and the way in in which coming out is valued and discussed within trans communities. Chapter 2 discusses transgender representation, and how gender presentation is contested and complicated by transfolk. Chapter 2 also addresses trans media representation, and the way in which transfolk create their own media representation in the absence of adequate and accurate trans representation in popular culture. Chapter 3 provides an in-depth analysis of the WKU Transgender and Non-Binary Student Group, discusses how the group functions as a chosen family, and explores the way in which group membership helps group members mitigate stigma and deal with trauma.


American Studies | Folklore | Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Studies | Social and Cultural Anthropology