Date of Award

Fall 12-2017

Degree Type


Degree Name


Degree Program

Educational Administration


Educational Leadership, Counseling, and Foundations

Major Professor

Dr. Alonzo Flowers

Second Advisor

Dr. Chris Broadhurst

Third Advisor

Dr. Marc Bonis

Fourth Advisor

Dr. D'Lane Compton


This qualitative, narrative study examined the lived experiences of transgender students at four-year institutions in the South. The college transition process and academic and social integration for transgender students was explored through the frameworks of Transition Theory (Schlossberg, 1995), Minority Stress Theory (Meyer, 1995; Breslow, Brewster, Velez, Wong, Geiger, & Soderstrom, 2015), and Academic and Social Integration theories (Tinto, 1975; Braxton, Hirschy, & McClendon, 2004). College climates can be challenging for transgender students, especially when campus staff and faculty are not prepared and/or aware of transgender students’ needs (Pryor, 2015). How students perceive their academic and social integration as well as how their integration was influenced by their gender identity was a key component of this study. Through a four-phase data collection process, transgender students had the opportunity to tell, share, and reflect on their experiences as transgender undergraduate students navigating the college transition, academic, and social integration processes.

Through data collection and analysis, four categories emerged from participant responses: 1) Navigating Identity, 2) College Transition and Challenges, 3) Environment, Space, and Climate, and 4) Sympathizing with Others. Within each category, several sub-categories were identified as well. Institutions of higher education must recognize the ever-growing presence of transgender students on their campuses. Moreover, institutions have the opportunity and responsibility to create policies, spaces, and opportunities that allow transgender college students to have a supportive academic and social integration process.


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