Publication Date


Document Type

Masters Thesis


School for Social Work


Gender identity, Tomboys, Sexual minority women-Psychology, Lesbians-Psychology, Stress (Psychology), Resilience (Personality trait), Sexual orientation-Psychological aspects, Gender nonconforming, Lesbian, Stress, Resilience, Gender binary, Discrimination, Queer


The purpose of this research is to explore the impact of the systematically imposed gender binary on the lives and psyches of gender non-conforming females over time. To pursue this qualitative research, I conducted single, exploratory, hour-long interviews with eight gender nonconforming females aged 59 years and older. The interviews touched upon many themes including the multiple ways participants' identify their gender, sex, and sexuality (and the developmental trajectory of each); how each participant relates to notions of the gender binary; participants' experiences as gender nonconforming young people, or "tomboys"; ways that families, institutions and the general public have performed regulatory acts through the employment of manipulation, discrimination, and/or violence against participants' non conforming gender presentations; participants' various expressions of "female masculinity"; participants' accumulative experiences of the stresses of living as a gender minority; and participants coping strategies and resilience in the face of discrimination. Because there is little-to-no literature on the cumulative effects of the gender binary on gender nonconforming individuals' lives, nor is there readily available literature exploring the experiences of gender nonconforming females, this research works to expand social work discourse in this way.




vi, 92 p. : ill. Thesis (M.S.W.)-Smith College School for Social Work, Northampton, Mass., 2011. Includes bibliographical references (p. 82-87)