Publication Date


Document Type

Masters Thesis


School for Social Work


Gender identity, Conformity, Lesbians-Identity, Bisexuals-Psychology, Transgender people-Identity, Gender nonconformity, Binary, Regulation


This qualitative study was undertaken to explore, and bring into social work discourse, gender nonconforming participants' experiences and meaning-making of binary gender regulation, specifically within relational contexts throughout their lives. Qualitative interviews were completed with 13 participants who identified with the descriptor of gender nonconforming in some way. The following questions were explored: How does the binary gender system become reproduced, maintained, enforced, and regulated through the lives of those who do not, and many times choose not, to adhere to and/or embody the constrictive and limiting expectations of this system? How is such regulation understood and internalized? What are the impacts of regulation on participants' overall sense of well being? The findings of this research confirmed that binary gender regulation was experienced by participants who self-identified as gender nonconforming, and that experiences of such gender regulation occurred in multiple relational contexts. Furthermore, such regulation was understood by participants as meaningful and impactful in their overall understandings of self. Participants' ways of negotiating the impacts of such regulation through affirming relationships and community was also explored and present in the findings of this study.




iii, 91 p. Thesis (M.S.W.)--Smith College School for Social Work, Northampton, Mass., 2010. Includes bibliographical references (p. 81-83)