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Grieving Gender: Trans-identities, Transition, and Ambiguous Loss

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Abstract:

More and more families include a member who is trans-identified, and therefore, may be called to consider how sex and gender matter to identity and relationships. Previous research shows that for some family members this is not a simple matter. Often, family members experience transition as a living death, wherein the trans-identified person is perceived as somehow present and absent, the same and different, at once. The purposes of this study were to understand what it is about the transition of sex/gender that incites this meaning struggle and how meaning-making is connected to ambiguous loss. Relational Dialectics Theory was used to analyze how family members construct meanings for transition through competing discourses related to sex, gender, and personal identity. Findings suggest that family members' meaning making processes position them to endure, overcome, or avoid the feelings of grief related to transition.

Keywords: Ambiguous Loss; Relational Dialectics Theory; Transgender Identity

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/03637751.2012.739705

Publication date: March 1, 2013

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