Aesthetic Identity Development Among Trans Adolescents and Young Adults

Jenifer K. McGuire, Andrew Reilly

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Dress is used by transgender and nonbinary (TNB) individuals as a way to develop and maintain identity, whether to reinforce a binary gender code or disrupt social expectations. However, safety issues of living in a society where TNB persons are discriminated against, harassed, and assaulted, and where binary gender violations are met with resistance, creates tension between expression of authentic gender identity and navigation of social systems. A framework for creating an aesthetic identity based on dress and identity development scholarship was created and used to analyze responses from interviews with 90 TNB individuals located in the United States, Canada, and Ireland. Findings revealed the dialectic tension between performativity and safety. The framework explores aesthetic identity through concepts including sensory, cognitive, and emotional aspects of clothing; scaffolding and feedback; role making and role taking; and exploration and commitment. Limitations and future research are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)235-250
Number of pages16
JournalClothing and Textiles Research Journal
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jul 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The author(s) disclosed receipt of the following financial support for the research and/or authorship of this article: USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture (Hatch project HAW03537-H and North Central Extension Research Activity 218).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 ITAA.


  • androgyny
  • cisgender
  • gender identity
  • passing
  • safety
  • transgender


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