Affirming Transgender Students: An Evaluation of a Rural New England College

Barbara Lynch (2010)

The literature on the developmental needs and affirmation of transgender college students is limited. Recently, colleges and universities have been expanding their multicultural populations, and, despite their limited knowledge about and experience with transgender students, institutions are reaching out to them. This study breaks new ground by providing necessary information about the state of transgender students on a particular college campus. The study evaluates the affirmation of transgender students on the campus of a New England Rural College (NERC), and upon its completion, the author will inform NERC administrators about the common and major needs of transgender students on their campus. Because college campuses are their own sort of community, the following methodology will be used: individual interviews will be conducted with a sample of NERC leaders and administrators, 12 of whom will be invited to individual interviews. The interview questionnaire consists of demographic as well as open-ended, semi-structured questions. Demographic questions ask interviewees their self-identified race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, and marital status; these questions also inquire about interviewees' education, leadership positions, professional organizational memberships, religious or spiritual affiliation, and political orientation. The semi-structured questions, which are based on a literature review, cover transgender identity development, transgender students on NERC campus, general transgender concerns on college campuses, institutions as allies, residence halls, health and counseling centers, athletics, academics, administration, and transgender student leadership. Common themes will emerge from the interview data through the use of the Consensual Qualitative Research (CQR) method (Hill, Thompson, Hess, Knox, Williams, & Ladany, 2005; Hill, Thomson, & Williams, 1997). The CQR allows an in-depth examination of individuals' subjective experiences and views. Another key component is the consensual process that relies on coders' joint deliberations, which can monitor personal biases. The potential benefits of the evaluation are expected to match NERC's stated policy to increase and retain its multicultural community.