Self-Acceptance of Transgender Identities: A Narrative Re-Storying Through Photos

Conference Strand

Identity Formation


Identities are formed and change throughout the lifespan. Gender non-conforming and transgender individuals, often experience a markedly different internal identity than is expected of their gender expression and identity in society. Three individuals share through interview and photos, their journey of self-acceptance, and expressions of individuality in this narrative qualitative study.


Transgender and other non-gender binary identifying persons have historically experienced oppression in social, personal, and intrapersonal realms in a variety of contexts (American Psychological Association [APA], 2015; Ehrensaft, 2011). The World Professional Association for Transgender Health (WPATH, 2012), and The Report of the 2015 U.S. Transgender Survey (2016) concludes that transgender individuals are at a higher risk than the general population for a variety of mental health issues (James et. al, 2016). Transgender individuals deserve clinical attention by the counseling community, and a shifting of the socio-political paradigm through advocacy (Burnes et al., 2009).

While mental health concerns are found to be high in transgender populations (APA, 2015, James et al. 2016) transition to the gender with which the individual identifies, and acceptance and support in one’s community has proven to decrease risk of suicidal ideation, and promote positive mental health outcomes (APA, 2015; Olsen, et al., 2016, Singh, Hays, & Watson, 2011). The goal of this presentation is to share this qualitative, narrative research study, which explores the stories of transgender individuals on their journey of self-acceptance, including the experience of coming out in family and society, the stages of self-acceptance and, narrative re-storying. This presentation will provide attendees with: 1. A review of the literature pertaining to best practices for working with families with transgender individuals, 2. Re-storying of the coming out and acceptance process of transgender individuals through photos, 3 Themes found that participants shared during data collection and analysis, 4. Advocacy ideas for and with transgender individuals and their support systems.


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Individual Presentations

Biographical Sketch

Bonnie King, Ph.D., LPC, NCC, is an Assistant Professor at Midwestern State University in the Department of Counseling, Kinesiology, and Special Education. She also works in a small private practice in Dallas, Texas. Her research and teaching interests include best practices for counseling transgender client populations, international counseling, and counseling in green space. Dr. King attended the University of New Orleans, and worked in an international school counseling role in Viet Nam. She has counseling experience in school counseling, drug rehabilitation, private practice, and community mental health settings.

Elise Johns, Ph.D., LPC­S, NCC is an Assistant Professor at Nicholls State University in the Department of Psychology, Counseling and Family Studies. She holds a doctorate in Counselor Education from the University of New Orleans and a master's in Counseling Psychology from Troy University. Dr. Johns has clinical experience in outpatient mental health treatment, grief counseling, crisis intervention, training clinics, and private practice. Dr. Johns has maintained a private practice in New Orleans for the past 5 years. She is a Licensed Professional Counselor, a Licensed Professional Counselor Approved Supervisor and a National Certified Counselor. Dr. Johns' research and teaching interests include multicultural competencies, LGBTIQA, spirituality, and ethical competencies of clinicians working with terminally ill clients.

Kristen Dickens Ph.D., NCC, ACS is an Assistant Professor at Georgia Southern University in the Counselor Education Program. Her current research interests include multiple roles and relationships in counselor education, ethics and value conflicts, multicultural issues in counseling, and family systems work. Dr. Dickens has experience working in a variety of community mental health settings, including intensive outpatient facilities, university outpatient centers, inpatient treatment centers for eating disorders, and in-home counseling services.


ELAB 238

Start Date

2-8-2019 2:30 PM

End Date

2-8-2019 3:45 PM

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Feb 8th, 2:30 PM Feb 8th, 3:45 PM

Self-Acceptance of Transgender Identities: A Narrative Re-Storying Through Photos

ELAB 238

Identities are formed and change throughout the lifespan. Gender non-conforming and transgender individuals, often experience a markedly different internal identity than is expected of their gender expression and identity in society. Three individuals share through interview and photos, their journey of self-acceptance, and expressions of individuality in this narrative qualitative study.