Date Available


Year of Publication


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation




Educational, School, and Counseling Psychology

First Advisor

Dr. Sharon Scales Rostosky


The majority of empirical studies in transgender psychology have focused on the negative experiences of urban transgender individuals (Grossman & D’Augelli, 2007; Koken, Bimbi, & Parsons, 2009; Melendez & Pinto, 2007; Singh & McKleroy, 2011; Strain & Shuff, 2010; Xavier, Bobbin, Singer, & Budd, 2005). Less is known about the experiences of rural transgender individuals (Fassinger & Arseneau, 2007; Grossman, 2008) especially in Central Appalachia (Gray, 2009). The purpose of this study was to examine transgender individuals’ perceptions of social support in Central Appalachia. Bronfenbrenner’s (1977) ecological model framed the analysis of social support experiences within the culture of Central Appalachia. I conducted 25 in-depth semi-structured interviews with transgender individuals residing in Central Appalachia using a protocol that was pilot tested and revised. Systematic grounded theory (Strauss & Corbin, 1990, 1998) guided the research design and analyses. Findings suggested that participants’ perceived social support from familial (11) and non-familial (19) sources. Perceived support manifested as identity (15), emotional (three), and practical (four) support which seemed to help compensate for the lack of transgender-specific resources in much of Central Appalachia. Implications for further research and psychological service delivery are discussed.

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)