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Experience, Gender, Identity, Nurse, Transgender, Transition



Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.


Background. The process of transitioning has a significant impact on improving quality of life among transgender and nonbinary people (Johansson et al., 2010). Transitioning is the act of moving towards a gender identity that feels more aligned with internal identity (Rankin & Beemyn, 2012). However, despite promising research that supports the benefits of medical, social and/or legal transitioning, the understanding of the experience has not been fully explored (Evans et al., 2021), and it is a barrier to advancing the delivery of gender affirming care among nurses, other health care providers, and health care organizations. There is a need to awaken new ways of understanding the transitioning process from the perspective of the non-cisgender person that informs and strengthens supports for the transgender and nonbinary community.

Purpose. The purpose of this study was to gain insight into the experience of the process of transitioning for transgender people from a strength-based perspective.

Method. A qualitative, interpretive descriptive methodology using the Appreciative Inquiry approach was used for this study. Interviews from 14 transgender people who were seeking transition, engaged in transition, or had completed the process were analyzed.

Results. The four main themes revealed were: 1) having responsive gender-affirming health care, 2) social gender affirmation, 3) support, and 4) transitioning on my own terms. There was a pervasive tension between the positive and negative narratives. Nurses positively influence the experience of transition through demonstrations of understanding and advocacy.

Conclusion. Findings of this study inform positive actions that support a positive process of transitioning for transgender and nonbinary people. To advance gender affirming care, nurses, health care providers, and health care organizations must advocate for and deliver trans competent care that is responsive, supportive, and flexible in meeting the needs of non-cisgender people. This study may contribute more broadly to the beginning of a universal normalization and shift in societal and systemic cis-normative standards towards a world where living the authentic self is healthy and free of the fear of rejection.

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