A thematic analysis of the "coming out" process for transgendered individuals

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New, Dawn E.
Meyer, Marcy E.
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Thesis (M.A.)
Department of Communication Studies
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This study examines the coming out process for transgendered individuals using the framework of Austin's speech act: the locutionary force, the illocutionary force, and the perlocutionary force. A grounded theory analysis of 43 letters in two different Internet databases revealed similarities and differences in the coming out process for transgendered individuals, compared to what we know about the process for gay and lesbian people. Similarities were found in all three acts: labels and scripts are used in the locutionary act; confession, education, affirmation and remorse are used as framing strategies in the illocutionary act; and rejection and acknowledgement are addressed in the perlocutionary act. Unique aspects of the coming out process for transgendered individuals include the importance of and reliance on labels in the locutionary act, education in the illocutionary act, and the visualization and cooperation of others in the perlocutionary act. These findings have a number of important practical and theoretical implications for interpersonal relationships and scholarship.