Creating gender: A thematic analysis of genderqueer narratives

Nova J. Bradford, G. Nicole Rider, Jory M. Catalpa, Quinlyn J. Morrow, Dianne R. Berg, Katherine G. Spencer, Jenifer K. McGuire

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

56 Scopus citations


Background and Aims: Increasingly, research is emerging on the subjective experience of genderqueer people. This study explored how genderqueer identities are understood and managed in both personal and social domains. Method: Interview data from 25 genderqueer-identified American adolescents and emerging adults, aged 15 to 26 (M = 21.28, SD = 3.20), were pulled from a larger study of 90 transgender and genderqueer participants. The 90-minute semi-structured interviews included questions about gender identity, the developmental pathway of participants, and relationships with others regarding gender. Results: Participants described “genderqueer” as a sufficiently broad category to capture their diverse experiences, and descriptions of genderqueer identities were heterogeneous, directly contradicting binary understandings of gender identity. A thematic analysis of interview transcripts resulted in three themes: intrapsychic experience, descriptions of master narratives about gender identity, and the co-construction of identities. Discussion: Participants described navigating a series of master and alternative narratives, such that all transgender people transgress a cisnormative master narrative, but genderqueer people further transgress normative understandings of a medicalized, binary transgender identity. The experience of co-creating identities was the process by which participants actively navigated constraints of the master narrative experience. Participants described the integral role of language in crafting new narratives to legitimize genderqueer experiences, as well as the subsequent intragroup conflict resulting from conflicting relationships to narratives in the transgender community. This study highlights genderqueer identities as a source of strength and positivity, and the importance of expanding beyond the hegemonic gender binary within research and clinical practice.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)155-168
Number of pages14
JournalInternational Journal of Transgenderism
Issue number2-3
StatePublished - 2019

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018, © 2018 Taylor & Francis Group, LLC.


  • alternative narratives
  • genderqueer
  • identity development
  • master narratives
  • narrative identity
  • transgender


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