The Navigation of Gender Identity Disclosure among Transgender Young Adults

Hannah Floy Sugarman, Fordham University


Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) individuals’ identity disclosure, colloquially named “coming out”, has previously been conceptualized as a rigid, linear process that all LGBTQ individuals must follow to become healthy and well adjusted. This qualitative study utilized grounded theory methodology to develop a theory to better understand how transgender young adults navigate the disclosure of their gender identity to friends, family, and school personnel in the contexts of their school and home environment, and what goals and contextual factors may be relevant to coming out. The purposive sample consisted of 14 transgender individuals (10 White, 2 Latino, 1 Native Hawaiian, and 1 White/Filipino), ranging in age from 18-25 (M = 21.1, SD = 2.1). Several major themes emerged from the data, including Gravity of Individual Disclosure Events, Methods of Mitigating Stress, Events Facilitating Disclosure, Events Inhibiting Disclosure, Contextual Factors, and Navigating the World Today. Taken together, these themes formed a core story of “Focusing on Who I Am”, which describes coming out as transgender as a decision-making process in which individuals learn to navigate their society’s gender expectations, and balance their desire to live authentically with contextual considerations such as safety and family culture. This study’s implications section provides clinical and policy-related suggestions for school mental health providers on how to best advocate for and support transgender adolescents in the school system.

Subject Area

Psychology|LGBTQ studies

Recommended Citation

Sugarman, Hannah Floy, "The Navigation of Gender Identity Disclosure among Transgender Young Adults" (2020). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI27993581.