Date on Master's Thesis/Doctoral Dissertation


Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation

Degree Name

Ph. D.


Counseling and Human Development

Degree Program

Counseling and Personnel Services, PhD

Committee Chair

McCubbin, Laurie

Committee Co-Chair (if applicable)

Budge, Stephanie

Committee Member

Budge, Stephanie

Committee Member

Washington, Ahmad

Committee Member

Pӧssel, Patrick

Author's Keywords

transgender; Asian; Asian American; Pacific Islander; API; identity development; identity negotiation; cultural values


While the field of transgender (trans) research is vastly growing and expanding, little is known about the process in which trans Asian and Pacific Islanders (API) individuals experience, navigate, and negotiate their trans and API cultural identities. The aims of this study were to: 1) examine the navigation and negotiation process for trans API individuals related to their cultural identities and values; 2) enhance, enrich, and diversify existing trans and API literature by generating foundational and complex understanding of trans API identity processes; and 3) challenge hegemonic narratives regarding trans API individuals’ lived experiences. Moustakas’ (1994) transcendental phenomenological qualitative methodology was employed to achieve these objectives. Semi-structured interviews were conducted via Skype with a sample of ten trans API individuals, with each interview transcribed, coded, and analyzed according to the methodology. The data yielded eight themes related to the navigation and negotiation process for this population: Navigating Belongingness (& Lack Thereof), American Cultural Values, API Cultural Values, Cultural Influences on Gender Identity, Hesitancy, Coming Out, Personal Values, and Integration. Findings revealed participants’ experiences of navigating spaces and negotiating cultural identities/values was far from monolithic and unidimensional. Instead, they spanned across wide spectrums of emotions and understandings of their lived experiences. Their identity processes of navigation and negotiation challenges the clinical implications and Western conceptualization of self-determination. For these participants, self-determination emerged in a way that considered their cultural values and the meaning they made from their experiences.