School for Social Work
The aim of this study was to qualitatively investigate the double binding effects of gender oppression on the lives of persons that self-identify as masculine-spectrum gender non-conforming. The qualitative interview used was designed to illuminate early memories of an individual's family of origin and the ways in which parents, siblings, and other primary support systems reacted to gender non-conforming behaviors in a child. The purpose of this study was to answer the following question: Is the identity development of a masculine-spectrum gender non-conforming person built on a relational foundation that is intra-psychically located within a double bind? The definition of a double bind that was used for data analysis is taken from Seikkula and Olson's (2003) interpretation of a double bind in the context of a family system, "people caught up in an ongoing system which produces conflicting definitions of the relationship and consequent subjective distress." This study sought to excavate the double binds that might be experienced in a family system when one person in the system is, by nature of developing a gender non-conforming identity, unable to meet the interpersonal expectations of the remaining members of the family. Understanding how the double binds of gender oppression, starting from the earliest stages of identity development, affect an individual's attachments and coping skills is critical in working therapeutically with adults and children who are considered gender non-conforming by societal standards.
Sennott, Shannon Lydia, "The double bind theory and gender non-conforming identity development" (2008). Masters Thesis, Smith College, Northampton, MA.