This Is AuburnElectronic Theses and Dissertations

Transgender and Genderqueer Youth and Adolescent Populations: An Ethnographic Content Analysis of Postings to Social Media




East, Courtney

Type of Degree

PhD Dissertation


Special Education, Rehabilitation, Counseling


The purpose of this dissertation is to explore the trends, issues, and concerns surrounding the transgender and genderqueer youth and adolescent populations with the aim of better understanding the culture of this demographic. This population face disproportionately high rates of social and psychological distress in comparison to their cisgender counterparts. While it is clear that the transgender and genderqueer youth and adolescent population endures adversity, the counseling profession has emphasized the use of a strengths-based and wellness approach to serving the needs of all clients. This study utilized an Ethnographic Content Analysis (ECA) to look at 224 postings to an online social media group provided by self-identified transgender or genderqueer youth and adolescents over the course of three consecutive months. Findings from this study revealed 3 thematic categories: Seeking, Sharing, and Providing along with 11 subcategories. This study highlighted unique concerns associated with this population such as dysphoria, passing, and name changes, all of which are imperative for counseling professionals to be aware of when serving this population. Also, this study showed that support systems are indicative of mental wellness and self-confidence. Postings within this study indicated a desire for in-group acceptance and belonging versus general community-level or societal acceptance. It was found that group members more often posted forms of uplifting and positive messages showing empowerment, resilience, and pride in one’s identity rather than posting messages indicating self-pity, shame, or anger as was expected based on the high levels of reported harassment from current research findings.