Perceptions of Resilience and Coping Among Gender-Diverse Individuals Using Photography

Jessamyn Bowling, Victoria Schoebel, Chloe Vercruysse

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Gender-diverse individuals (those whose gender and/or sex differ from societal expectations, such as trans or genderqueer) face stigma and discrimination, which can translate into negative health outcomes. Resilience describes the process of overcoming adversity that can mitigate these negative effects. Previous work has focused on trans individuals only or measured resilience without first exploring subjective understandings. Purpose: We sought to explore subjective perceptions of resilience among gender-diverse individuals. Methods: This qualitative study uses longitudinal photo-elicited interviews (in which participants' photos prompt interview discussion) with 21 gender diverse individuals (35 total interviews or a 66% retention rate). Interviews were separated by 6 months and transcripts were analyzed using Dedoose software, with each coded twice by separate coders. Results: Participants' strategies to foster resilience included proactive approaches at both the internal and external levels and distracting/temporary approaches. Two themes, flexibility and awareness, emerged as central facets of resilience trajectories. Flexibility took several forms and was intrinsic to cognitive processes, as well as coping choices, and sought through mental training techniques, such as meditation. Participants demonstrated high levels of awareness by incorporating trauma and health outcomes in gender-diverse populations within their narratives, and through the recognition of the unhelpful aspect of avoidant strategies in building resilience. Conclusions: The diverse ways that individuals perceive their own resilience have implications for resilience research in this group and have the potential to inform the development of strength-based interventions tailored to gender-diverse individuals. Public health interventions targeting resilience have the potential to break the pathway linking adversity to ill health among gender-diverse individuals, thereby reducing health disparities in this group.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)176-187
Number of pages12
JournalTransgender Health
Issue number1
StatePublished - Aug 1 2019
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© Jessamyn Bowling et al. 2019; Published by Mary Ann Liebert, Inc. 2019.


  • LGBT
  • gender diverse
  • photo-elicitation interviews
  • resilience
  • transgender


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