The aim of this paper is to examine whether transgender people's experiences of relationships are influenced by heteronormativity, the related concept of sexual legitimacy, and gender as a binary construct. Data from an Internet-based study of transgender people in the USA was used. Findings seem to indicate that participants were strongly influenced by heteronormative discourses. However, less rigid gender beliefs are associated with lower levels of internalised transphobia, which, in turn, are associated with higher levels of self-esteem. Transgender people can therefore find themselves in a double-bind where, on one hand, conforming to gender and sexual norms leads to validation by mainstream US society, but could possibly entail diminished psychological well-being.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
The data used was part of a larger study funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (1R01-DA15269). The authors would like to recognise the influence of their current study, funded by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (9R01HD057595-04A1), on their thinking about some of the issues presented in this paper. Thank you also to Elizabeth Greene for formatting support, Heidi Fall for administrative support, Rebecca Swinburne Romine for initial data analysis, the study’s Advisory Board for their insight, and to Michael S. Wright for cross-validation of further data analysis.
- Sexual legitimacy