There is a paucity of empirical research on the experiences of transgender people in general. Given that veterans appear to be overrepresented among the general transgender population (Blosnich et al., 2013), there is both an opportunity and an urgent need to better understand transgender veterans’ experiences. This symposium fills an important gap in research by utilizing both quantitative and qualitative methodologies to examine the experiences, risk, and resilience of transgender veterans.
The first paper explores transgender veterans’ stigmatizing experiences in the military, such as violence, harassment, and heterosexism, using recent cross-sectional survey data. The second paper builds on these findings by examining how transgender veterans’ identity-related minority stressors inform their healthcare seeking behaviors and mental health. Finally, using a queer theory-informed ethnographic methodology, the third paper investigates transgender service members’ and veterans’ first-person narratives to examine culturally specific forms of strength and resilience.
Together, these studies provide a much needed multidimensional perspective on the risks that transgender veterans’ encounter both in and out of military service, as well as the coping mechanisms and strengths they demonstrate in the face of adversity. The symposium will help to shape future research through the examination of risk and resilience in a poorly understood population through both quantitative and qualitative research methodologies. These papers comprising this symposium also will help social workers to better understand the risk factors facing transgender veterans, as well as how to better meet their health and mental health needs, anticipate barriers that they may experience in seeking services, and take an affirmative stance in promoting their health and welfare.