Author ORCID Identifier

Date Available


Year of Publication


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation


Arts and Sciences


Gender and Women's Studies

First Advisor

Dr. Srimati Basu


This dissertation explores the contemporary lived experiences and representations of people who are transgender and parents (trans parents) in the United States. I employ an intersectional framework that primarily uses trans theory, motherhood studies, and affect theory. After conducting 36 semi-structured interviews with trans parents across the US and critically analyzing the series Transparent (2014-2019), I found that enmeshed discourses and practices of family and motherhood, or what I dub the American family system, affectively shapes who gets greater access to material and social capital. This process primarily occurs through the ways the American family system mobilizes affects like belonging, love, and fear to move people towards gender normativity via parenting language and parenting bodies, and because of this, it overwhelmingly sticks motherhood to bodies assigned female at birth. Trans parents who cannot or will not reproduce the American family system become affect aliens and misfits, or what I see as generative locations from which we can reimagine who and how we care for one another.

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

Funding Information

This project was supported financially by the Bonnie Jean Cox Award in 2018, 2019, and 2020. It was also financially supported by University of Kentucky's Office of LGBTQ* Resources Graduate Research Grant in 2018. Last, it was supported by the Center for Equality and Social Justice Grant at the University of Kentucky in 2019 to 2020.