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)

dickey, lore

Committee Member

dickey, lore

Committee Member

Washington, Ahmad

Committee Member

Mitchell, Amanda

Committee Member

Tannehill, Brynn

Author's Keywords

transgender; military; standpoint theory; oppression; collective resilience


The 2010 repeal of the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell (DADT) policy ended the ban on open lesbian, gay, and bisexual (LGB) military service (Alford & Lee, 2016). However, prior to 2015 transgender military personnel were still considered medically and psychologically unfit for service (Kerrigan, 2012; Yerke & Mitchell, 2013). From 2015 through 2017, the Department of Defense (DoD) researched the implications of policy change, developed new policies and trainings, and implemented open service for transgender persons (Belkin, 2016; Carter, 2015). The purpose of this study was to explore the experiences of transgender military service members prior to this transition in military policy. Researchers interviewed actively serving transgender military personnel (N = 40) about their gender identity process and military service. Researchers aimed to better understand how service members made sense of their experiences of oppression and resilience from their own standpoint as they negotiated their gender identity and military career. Transgender service members’ individual perspectives and collective standpoint provided insight into intrasubjective and intersubjective experiences of surviving institutionalized oppression. Superordinate themes included: (a) understanding oppression; (b) survival strategies; (c) individual resilience factors; and (d) collective resilience factors. Public Significance Statement This qualitative study seeks to amplify the voices of actively serving transgender military service members. Results are timely given the recent implementation of DTM-19-004: Military Service by Transgender Persons and Persons with Gender Dysphoria, which reinstituted the ban on open transgender military service (DoD, 2019). Results present unique strategies for resistance and considerations from the perspective of stakeholders that may assist researchers, community organizations, and care providers in better understanding and serving the transgender military community. Keywords: transgender, military, standpoint, oppression, collective resilience.