Date of Degree


Document Type


Degree Name



Social Welfare


Irwin Epstein

Subject Categories

Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies | Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Studies


autoethnography, Erving Goffman, masculinities, transgender


The life experiences of transgender men are an understudied area in social work research. Given the negative experiences many transgender men have utilizing the medical and social service systems, greater understanding is needed about how these men negotiate their identities in an array of relational contexts. This dissertation uses autoethnography to explore how one transgender man navigates his identity as a man, father, and social work professional.

Viewed through the theoretical frame of Erving Goffman's work, and in dialogue with masculinities studies and queer theory, this study finds that trans men are continually negotiating their identities in varying relational contexts, even post transition. They face ongoing choices about self disclosure. Transgender men face constant challenges to their masculinity, even to their humanity. Transgender fathers challenge traditional notions of parenting. Out social work professionals face these complexities even among colleagues. Despite this, transgender men are remarkably resilient and find numerous ways to surmount the impact of stigma.

Practice implications include acknowledging the challenges to a trans man's masculinity while helping him place it is the broader context of manhood in America, providing support for the many ways he is continually navigating his identity, creating opportunities for transgender fathers to connect and share resources, and nurturing the varied ways trans men thrive in the midst of pervasive stigma.