Date of Graduation

Fall 2018


Master of Science in Counseling


Counseling, Leadership, and Special Education

Committee Chair

Sascha Mowrey


transgender, trans, identity development, social support, social media

Subject Categories



This study explores the role of social media in the identity development of trans individuals and whether it can be viewed as a means to gain social support and thus enhance positive identity development. Traditional models of identity development, as well as those for trans individuals, count social support as a key factor in psychosocial well-being, and adaptive coping. However, many trans people may face difficulty in finding or accessing direct social support. This study consisted of five semi-structured interviews with trans individuals exploring their experiences using social media and their perceptions of its influence on their identity development. Using, Queer Theory as well as D’Augelli’s Model of Gay, Lesbian and Bisexual Identity Development to inform this phenomenological study and analysis, three major themes were identified: Social Support, Negative Interactions and Microaggressions, and Access. Sub-themes of visibility, coming out, direct experiences of negativity and pressure to conform, indirect experiences of perception and external expectations along with frequency of use and social media resources were also identified. Participants reported both positive and negative aspects of social media usage that they felt had influenced their identity development and self-image. Regardless of their perceptions of its influence, all participants continued using social media. The findings of this study informed the recommendations for practitioners serving the trans community as well as trans community members themselves about the variety of potential experiences for trans people who might seek or advise others to use social media as a means to find or access social support.


© B. Doss

Open Access

Included in

Counseling Commons