Male-to-Female Transgender Individuals Building Social Support and Capital From Within a Gender-Focused Network

J Gay Lesbian Soc Serv. 2008 Sep 1;20(3):203-220. doi: 10.1080/10538720802235179.


The literature on male-to-female transgender (MTF) individuals lists myriad problems such individuals face in their day-to-day lives, including high rates of HIV/AIDS, addiction to drugs, violence, and lack of health care. These problems are exacerbated for ethnic and racial minority MTFs. Support available from their social networks can help MTFs alleviate these problems. This article explores how minority MTFs, specifically in an urban environment, develop supportive social networks defined by their gender and sexual identities. Using principles of community-based participatory research (CBPR), 20 African American and Latina MTFs were recruited at a community-based health care clinic. Their ages ranged from 18 to 53. Data were coded and analyzed following standard procedure for content analysis. The qualitative interviews revealed that participants formed their gender and sexual identities over time, developed gender-focused social networks based in the clinic from which they receive services, and engaged in social capital building and political action. Implications for using CBPR in research with MTFs are discussed.