Abstract: (Withdrawn) Healthcare Experiences Among Trans and Gender-Expansive HBCU Students: Preliminary Findings (Society for Social Work and Research 27th Annual Conference - Social Work Science and Complex Problems: Battling Inequities + Building Solutions)

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(Withdrawn) Healthcare Experiences Among Trans and Gender-Expansive HBCU Students: Preliminary Findings

Saturday, January 14, 2023
Valley of the Sun D, 2nd Level (Sheraton Phoenix Downtown)
* noted as presenting author
Sal Ryman, MSW, Doctoral student, North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University, Greensboro, NC
Background and Purpose: Trans (including transgender, non-binary, and other gender-expansive identities) people of color experience health inequities related to their multiple marginalized identities. Historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs) provide supportive learning environments for Black students; for trans students, HBCUs could also provide supportive healthcare experiences during emerging adulthood that leads to improved health outcomes and quality of life. While HBCUs have a history of being traditionally gendered spaces with varying degrees of acceptance of queer and trans students, several HBCU leaders have recently committed to improving campus climate for LGBTQ+ students.

As trans youth experiences more and more barriers due to local- and state-legislative efforts, college may offer many trans students their first opportunity to receive gender-affirming or transition-related healthcare independent of parents/guardians. There is currently little research addressing trans students at HBCUs, particularly around issues of health. This study will examine experiences with on-campus health and mental health care providers, why students do or do not utilize on-campus services for care, and how students define affirming care.


In-depth, semi-structured interviews will be conducted with 12-15 self-identified trans HBCU students who have experienced a need for health or mental health services (whether they utilized services or not). The sample is anticipated to be predominantly Black undergraduate students, aged 18-25; however, there are no restrictions related to race, age, or level of study. Participant-researchers will be recruited via social media, e-mail to LGBTQ+ campus organizations, and word of mouth.

An Intersectional Research for Trans Health Justice (IRTHJ) framework encourages participatory methods and examination of structures of domination, systems of inequality, and socio-structural processes. This qualitative study uses a hybrid participatory-phenomenological method to center the voices and perspectives of participant-researchers and share rich descriptions and personal meanings regarding accessing and utilizing on-campus health services. Initial and follow-up interviews will be conducted via video conference, recorded, and transcribed verbatim. As a hybrid participatory project, transcripts, analysis, and findings will be reviewed by and with participant-researchers to ensure accurate representation of their experiences. Data will be reviewed and considered in accordance with standards of hermeneutic phenomenological practice.

Results: This presentation will discuss preliminary findings including experiences with on-campus health care services, perceptions of HBCU climates, and what gender-affirming care and campus policies look like to trans students. Findings will be considered in relation to the parallel research examining LGBTQ+ policies at HBCUs.

Conclusions and Implications: This exploratory study will inform the next phase of research to obtain more comprehensive and generalizable data regarding the experiences of trans people of color regarding higher education and healthcare. Receiving gender-affirming care during emerging adulthood may empower individuals to better manage their healthcare and improve long-term outcomes. HBCUs provide supportive education environments for Black students; by welcoming trans students and providing affirming experiences with healthcare, HBCUs have the opportunity to reduce inequities in employment, healthcare, housing, and other areas that limit the lives of trans people of color.