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J Fam Psychol. 2009 Dec;23(6):853-60. doi: 10.1037/a0017198.

Experiences of familial acceptance-rejection among transwomen of color.

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Center for HIV/AIDS Educational Studies and Training, National Development and Research Institutes, Public Health Solutions, New York, New York, USA.


Because of the stigma associated with transgenderism, many transwomen (biological males who identify as female or transgender) experience rejection or abuse at the hands of their parents and primary caregivers as children and adolescents. The Parental Acceptance-Rejection (PAR) theory indicates that a child's experience of rejection may have a significant impact on their adult lives. The purpose of this study was to conduct a qualitative analysis of adult transwomen of color's experiences with caregivers, guided by PAR theory. Twenty transwomen of color completed semi-structured interviews exploring the reaction of their parents and primary caregivers to their gender. While many participants reported that at least one parent or close family member responded with warmth and acceptance, the majority confronted hostility and aggression; reports of neglect and undifferentiated rejection were also common. Many transwomen were forced out of their homes as adolescents or chose to leave, increasing their risk of homelessness, poverty, and associated negative sequelae. Future research is needed to explore how families come to terms with having a transgender child and how best to promote acceptance of such children.

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