Transgender College Students: An Exploratory Study of Perceptions, Engagement, and Educational Outcomes

Transgender College Students: An Exploratory Study of Perceptions, Engagement, and Educational Outcomes

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Michelle Kusel

April 23, 2010
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  1. Transgender College Students: An Exploratory Study of Perceptions, Engagement, and

    Educational Outcomes Michelle L. Kusel Dawn Simounet Graduate Student Graduate Student Loyola University Chicago Loyola University Chicago Dr. John P. Dugan Assistant Professor, Higher Education Loyola University Chicago Sponsored by the C. Charles Jackson Foundation, National Clearinghouse for Leadership Programs, & National Association of Campus Activities  MSL/ NCLP, 2009
  2. Rationale for Study • Much of the limited research aggregates

    transgender college students with their lesbian, gay, and bisexual (LGB) peers (Pusch, 2005; Renn, 2007). • Current research focuses on qualitative identity development and campus climate issues (Bieschke, Eberz, & Wilson, 2000; Carter, 2000; Pusch, 2005). • The amount of students identifying as transgender or questioning their gender identity is increasing on campus (Beemyn, 2003; McKinney, 2005). • The lack of comprehensive knowledge contributes to a variety of gaps in what practitioners know about transgender students and the extent to which they can purposefully address student needs.
  3. Definitions • Gender: socially constructed learned behaviors (Beemyn, 2003; Bilodeau,

    2005, 2009; Bilodeau & Renn, 2005; Carter, 2000; Ekins & King, 2006; Evans et al., 2010; Lev, 2006). • Sex: biological characteristics (Sausa, 2002). • Gender Identity: conceived as a continuum of gender exploration rather than a fixed, binary limitation (Bilodeau, 2009; Sausa, 2002).
  4. Definitions • Transgender: Umbrella term to include individuals whose gender

    identities do not comply with binary assumptions (Beemyn, 2003; Carter, 2000; Ekins & King, 2006; Rands, 2009; Renn & Bilodeau, 2005) and whose birth sex deviates from their internal identification (Bilodeau, 2005). – Male-to-female (MtF) or female-to-male (FtM) individuals whose anatomical features fit a prescribed male or female definition, but their gender identity does not match their biological sex (Beemyn, 2003; Bilodeau, 2005; Carter, 2000). – Intersexed refers to individuals whose anatomical features do not fit the prescribed definitions of male or female (Dreger, 2007).
  5. Existing Research Campus Climate • Frames campus climates as potentially

    hostile and stresses the importance of environmental factors in mediating that perception, but the extent to which within-group differences exists remains unclear. Identity Development • Bilodeau (2005) adapted D’Augelli’s (1994) sexual orientation identity development lifespan model for transgender college students.
  6. Engagement • LGB and transgender students are often examined collectively

    in the limited research exploring transgender student engagement on campus Existing Research
  7. 1. How do transgender college students perceive (e.g., sense of

    belonging, campus climate), engage (e.g., mentoring relationships, community service involvement, student group involvement, leadership experiences, interactions across difference, academic learning experiences), and develop (e.g., cognitive complexity, leadership efficacy, social responsibility) within the collegiate environment? 2. Are there significant within group differences (i.e., male to female, female to male, intersexed) among transgender college students’ perceptions, engagement, and/ or development in the collegiate environment? 3. Are there significant between group differences among transgender, LGB, and/or heterosexual college students’ perceptions, engagement, and/ or development in the collegiate environment? Research Questions
  8. Conceptual Framework The selection of dependent variables for this study

    reflect three criteria: 1. Those examined in the limited existing research on transgender college students, 2. engagement experiences consistent with influential measures from college impact research and principals of good practice in undergraduate education (Chickering & Gamson, 1987; Pascarella & Terenzini, 2005), and 3. identified core outcomes of higher education (Association of American Colleges and Universities, 2007; National Association of Student Personnel Administrators & American College Personnel Association, 2004).
  9. Sample Overall MSL • 101 total institutions • Respondents =

    115,632 • Return Rate = 34% This Study • 91 transgender identified participants – 29 Female-to-Male – 9 Male-to-Female – 19 Intersexed – 34 Preferred Not to Say • Mean age = 22 • 32% students of color • Matched Random Samples of LGB and Heterosexual students
  10. • Variable selection was limited to only those measures included

    in the MSL survey instrument and cannot capture the full array of perceptions, engagement experiences, and educational outcomes associated with the collegiate experience. • The sample size of transgender students in this research is small and limits the types of statistical analyses that can be conducted. Limitations
  11. Results Differences by Transgender Sub-Identity With the exception of two

    variables, the dependent measures demonstrated no significant within-group differences – Engagement Measures •Positional leadership roles in student groups •Faculty mentoring
  12. Results Differences between Transgender Students and Peers No differences emerged

    across engagement measures, but significant differences were present on campus climate and outcome variables – Campus Climate Measures • Sense of Belonging • Non-Discriminatory Climate – Engagement Measures • Complex Cognitive Skills • Socially Responsible Leadership Capacity
  13. 1. The significantly lower perceptions of campus climate and educational

    outcomes reported by transgender students bolster previous calls for increased support mechanisms in the college environment (Beemyn, 2005a; Beemyn, Curtis et al., 2005; Beemyn, Domingue et al., 2005). 2. Findings related to variation in faculty mentoring and positional leadership rates by transgender sub-identifications suggest the incredible power of normative assumptions regarding masculinity and the fear of ambiguity. 3. Results have implications for the design of future quantitative research on transgender and LGB students. Transgender sub- identities demonstrated more similarities than differences in collegiate perceptions, engagement, and educational outcomes suggesting the appropriateness of examining the population as a whole. Implications
  14. For More Information… Multi-Institutional Study of Leadership http://www.leadershipstudy.net Michelle L.

    Kusel mkusel@luc.edu Graduate Student Loyola University Chicago Dawn Simounet dsimounet@luc.edu Graduate Student Loyola University Chicago Dr. John P. Dugan jdugan1@luc.edu Assistant Professor, Higher Education Loyola University Chicago