Transgender and Gender-nonconforming Experiences with Expanding Identity Language: An Exploration into the Use and Function of Identity Language in the LGBT+ Community

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Dawson, Rebekah Karii
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Middle Tennessee State University
Although identity language is recognized in social psychological literature as fundamental in the formation of social identity, there has been an absence of research on alternative language use and its role within LGBT+ communities. Using narrative design, I interviewed 12 transgender and gender-nonconforming people, to explore how sexual, gender, and romantic minorities use nonconventional language, how they are affected by it personally and within their communities, and how the relationship with language and identity development interacts. In the findings, there was consistency in association of this language with a group of people with shared experiences. Themes developed around the impact that these terms had on identity development, the definitions of the terms, and how the terms are used (or avoided) depending on interpersonal contexts. These findings demonstrate the important role that identity language plays for the identity process for these participants, as well as the role of community and technology.
Sexuality, Womens studies, LGBTQ studies