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An interpretative phenomenological analysis of identity management and coping strategies of transsexuals in the workplace

Waite, Linda (2012) An interpretative phenomenological analysis of identity management and coping strategies of transsexuals in the workplace. University of Gloucestershire.

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Abstract

There is a distinct dearth of transgender research which focuses on workplace experiences. The present study aims to fill that gap by using qualitative methods to explore the strategies employed by transsexuals in terms of their identity management and coping strategies of gender transition in the workplace. Through purposive sampling from Gloucestershire and Wiltshire transgender support groups, participants chosen had a work history and self-identified as transsexual or gender variant. By drawing on four in-depth interviews this study illustrates the process of creating a new social gender identity and how that is managed within the workplace. Using interpretative phenomenological analysis, three major themes emerged: a) preparation, planning and process of transition in the workplace, b) the ‘self’ – challenges and coping strategies within the workplace, and c) negotiating the gender binary system and interaction in the workplace. These themes relate to the triggers of disclosure at work, interaction and how individuals manage their careers, and work with organisations in managing their transition process. For participants who had transitioned, open workplace transitions were a positive experience which helped to reduce stigma and add some stability to an emotional and physical transition.

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