Graduation Date

Spring 2017

Document Type



Master of Arts degree with a major in Sociology

Committee Chair Name

Dr. Meredith Williams

Committee Chair Affiliation

HSU Faculty or Staff

Second Committee Member Name

Dr. Mary Virnoche

Second Committee Member Affiliation

HSU Faculty or Staff

Subject Categories



While transgender research is educating and reforming schools, politics and wider society, there is little work on a gender spectrum that disrupts the gender binary of (trans) men/women. This research is an attempt to fill in the gaps of people, significantly students who do not fit under the “transgender umbrella,” as this term has tended to clump an array of gender and sexual identities together. This qualitative research explores students who go beyond the gender binary and how they navigate non-binary, genderqueer, and gender non-conforming identities within Humboldt State University (HSU). With this present qualitative study, I examined the lived experiences of 11 self-identified gender non-conforming students at HSU. Much of what they discussed parallels research on transgender students in regards to faculty/staff training, bathrooms, and improvement for resources. These reasons prompted me to go a different direction and present the ways of how students operate their identity in a “progressive” university like HSU. I identified four themes from the in-person interviews; these include forming an identity as they found themselves at HSU, gender salience and disruptions through encounters at HSU, safe zones/safe people, and the degrees of “being out.” I argue that society is largely heteronormative and gender normative, and this is reflected in institutions like schools. Findings can provide insight into the realities of students who are misunderstood and underrepresented within a school that is largely gender and heteronormative. By listening to these experiences, colleges and universities can implement better policies to support students who live outside the gender binary.

Citation Style



Thesis/Project Location