Kelsey Moran, PsyD, is a 2017 graduate of the Psy.D. Program in Clinical Psychology at Antioch University, New England

Dissertation Committee:

  • Gargi Roysircar, EdD, Committee Chair
  • Barbara Belcher-Timme, PsyD, Committee Member
  • Wendy Vincent, PsyD Committee Member


trans, language, cisgender, gender identity, gender expression, biological sex, sexuality

Document Type


Publication Date



There has been an increasingly pervasive need to gain a deeper and more individualized psychological understanding of how people experience their gender identities, as well as how they navigate the complicated and nuanced language of gender. Words carry meaning and it is vital to gain an insightful understanding of the impact of words, whether supportive or discriminatory, on trans people. The present qualitative study utilized phenomenological methods to hold interviews with three trans individuals, who had recently graduated from college, about their unique experiences with gender. Thematic analysis was used to examine common themes that arose throughout the interviews. Seven thematic clusters emerged: Positive Experiences, Language, Gender Development, Coming Out, Discrimination, Emotional Reactions, and Representation and Visibility. Twenty-one themes were organized under the seven clusters. Some of these themes include (a) fear (“that was a big step for me, and I was so scared”), (b) transphobia (“I’ve gotten `it’[pronoun] a few times”), (c) familiarity with language (“I appreciate it when people either are pretty up on [gendered language], or are really receptive to learning more about it”), and (d) necessity of support (“just knowing that there are other people like you [who are trans] out there is awesome and empowering”). Exploration of the emerging themes emphasized the individuality of trans individuals and their personal experiences with and opinions of gender. Suggestions for navigating the complicated language of gender, as identified by the participants, are provided in hopes of increasing awareness and safety for the trans community. Limitations of the study included the researcher’s identity and her related biases, the small sample size, and concerns regarding one’s personal safety that may have influenced people to participate or to not participate in the study. Directions for future research include gaining additional understanding of a wide breadth of trans individuals’ intersectional identities (sexuality, race, ethnicity, nationality, class, ability, religion/spirituality, etc.), the experiences of trans individuals, generational differences in gender identities, and positive experiences related to trans identities.


Kelsey Moran

ORCID Scholar ID# 0000-0002-1021-5625