Psychology

Title

Trans activism and advocacy among transgender students in higher education: A mixed methods study

Document Type

Article

Abstract

Trans students face institutional and interpersonal discrimination that renders them vulnerable to minority stress. Some trans students respond to minority stress, and perceptions of injustice on their campuses, via engagement in campus activism or advocacy. The current mixed methods study explores trans undergraduate and graduate students' explanations for engaging or not engaging in activism/advocacy and the types of activities in which they engage. It also examines, using logistic regression, what institutional, student, and trans-specific factors predict whether trans students engage in activism/advocacy. Qualitative analyses indicated that students engaged in a variety of activism and advocacy activities, both formal and informal. Students who engaged in activism/advocacy cited their personal values, sense of personal and community responsibility, desire for community, and opportunities for engagement in explaining their involvement. Students who did not engage emphasized other obligations and identities as taking precedence, visibility concerns, lack of connections to campus trans communities (e.g., as nonbinary students or students of color), burnout, mental health issues, activism not being a priority, and structural barriers. Logistic regression analyses indicated that attending a 4-year (vs. 2-year) institution and being an undergraduate (vs. graduate) student were related to a greater likelihood of activism/advocacy. A negative perception of campus climate was related to greater likelihood of activism/advocacy, but interacted with participants' perceptions of their institution's trans-supportiveness relative to other colleges, such that those who perceived a negative climate but also viewed their institution relatively positively in comparison to other colleges had the highest likelihood of engaging in activism/advocacy. Experiences of discrimination and being more out were also related to a greater likelihood of engagement.

Publication Title

Journal of Diversity in Higher Education

Publication Date

2020

Volume

13

Issue

1

First Page

66

Last Page

84

ISSN

1938-8926

DOI

10.1037/dhe0000125

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