The influence of role models on trans men's identity development
Transgender and gender nonconforming (TGNC) individuals face significant stigma and discrimination stemming from negative societal attitudes toward their experienced gender incongruence. Much of the LGBTQ literature on TGNC health disparities and gender minority stress focuses on the influence of overt acts of violence and oppression, often leaving more subtle and ubiquitous stressors, like invisibility, unexplored. In addition, there is a limited amount of literature on the experiences of transgender men, particularly those residing in the central U.S. Research suggests that the influence of positive role models can mitigate many of the stressors experienced by TGNC people. This study aimed to explore the influence of role models on trans men's identity development. Using Photovoice Methodology situated in Community-Based Participatory Research, this project collaboratively explored the needs, assets, and concerns of trans men living in Mid-Missouri. Twelve participants (MdnAge = 31.5 years-old) and the researchers separately grouped the participant-generated photographs and personal narratives into eight themes, including Authenticity, Acceptance, Inaccessibility, Isolation, and "Trans Enough?" Results supported the idea that access to positive role models serves as a protective factor for TGNC people. Results additionally highlight that trans men possess significant characteristics of resilience. Several implications for practice, public policy, and future research are provided.