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Softas-Nall, Basilia

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This study investigated the experiences of romantic couples who maintained their relationship when one partner transitioned gender. For this phenomenology, 13 couples were interviewed as a dyad and individually from within systemic, feminist, and queer research theories. Couples were interviewed together to best encapsulate their couple narrative and honor their experiences. Themes that emerged from the interviews appeared overall consistent with research regarding transgender couple experiences. Couples discussed how much they loved each other and cared about their relationship above and beyond a partner’s gender identity, sharing they felt committed to their partners as people. Several common relationship changes were associated with gender transition including improved communication skills and language changes, affirming sexual relationships, and redistribution of power within the couple dyad. Benefits of the gender transition included improved relationships overall, emergence of support from communities and loved ones, passing privilege, and improved awareness to social issues. Couples also described challenges to navigating a gender transition within a relationship including losing close relationships, difficulty with remaining patient in transition, and adjusting to new identities such as feeling queer invisibility or a loss of heterosexual privilege. Many common relationship strengths and positive qualities were found in common across couples: love, acceptance, advocacy, commitment, respect, perseverance, friendship, flexibility, listening, humor, and sexual fluidity. Finally, couples shared that political issues in the current sociopolitical climate had a personal impact on their felt safety and daily lives. Suggestions were made for counseling psychologists to use in their work such as remaining unconditionally trans positive in work with transitioning couples and becoming competent in trans issues before taking on transgender couples. Future research could also be drawn from this work to continue celebrating the complexity of gender diversity and sharing positive, successful narratives of this often ignored population of families.


Gender transition, Transgender couples


427 pages

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