Date of Completion


Embargo Period



Transgender, Kinship, Gender, Family, Human Rights, Dignity, LGBT

Major Advisor

Francoise Dussart

Associate Advisor

Pamela I. Erickson

Associate Advisor

Richard A. Wilson

Field of Study



Doctor of Philosophy

Open Access

Open Access


This dissertation focuses on the processes of negotiating and redrawing concepts of relatedness, kinship, group membership, and citizenship for transgender people. Examining relationships in the context of family, friendship, group membership, and law, I explore how relationships are defined, challenged, and transformed in the context of gender transition. By conducting structured interviews of transgender people and their family members, and engaging in participant observation in support group meetings, conferences, and social events, I was able to collect a wide range of data to utilize in my analysis. I sought to understand the ways in which transgender people identify the place of kinship in their own lives. I pay careful attention to the power dynamics that are embedded in relationships, and the ways in which they are transformed during and after gender transition. I argue that as transgender people move from one gender to another, they find themselves in a state of liminality, where familial, social, and legal rights can no longer be claimed or guaranteed, but must be petitioned for instead. This difference between ‘claiming’ rights and ‘petitioning for’ them is the difference between having ones dignity recognized, and having it denied (Osiatynski 2009). This loss of power and dignity has a significant impact on transgender peoples’ well being and how they conceptualize and challenge hegemonic notions of transgender identity. The ways in which transgender people are portrayed collectively has a significant impact on how individuals conceptualize their own place in the family and in society.