DOI: 10.1177/03616843231218699 ISSN: 0361-6843

The Sexual Scripts of Transgender and Gender Diverse Emerging Adults: A Thematic Analysis

Michael L. Dolezal, Melissa Decker, Heather L. Littleton
  • General Psychology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Gender Studies

Rooted in sexual script and gender minority stress and resilience (GMSR) theories, the present study investigated how a nationally recruited sample of 169 transgender and gender diverse (TGD) undergraduates perceived a typical sexual encounter involving a TGD undergraduate (i.e., their sexual scripts), as well as the extent to which various forms of distal stress, proximal stress, and resilience factors were embedded within and affected these scripts. Using thematic analysis, 12 themes were identified within three overarching categories: types of sexual/romantic relationships, gender minority stress experiences, and resilience factors. TGD undergraduates’ scripts in some ways mirrored those of their heterosexual and cisgender peers (i.e., enacting gendered roles in sex initiation, differing emotional responses following sex by gender identity), but scripts also differed in many notable ways. In their scripts, TGD students frequently described how distal (i.e., enacted stigma, trauma history) and proximal (i.e., gender dysphoria, self-stigma) stressors affected the sexual experiences of TGD undergraduates. However, resilience themes such as open communication and discussing one's gender identity were also commonly included and presented as providing protection against minority stress. Results demonstrate how GMSR experiences inform TGD undergraduates’ sexual scripts and suggest several critical potential points of intervention for this population.

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