Author Information

Kayla Spagna


This research examines the experiences of transgender students attending four-year colleges or universities in Massachusetts. I pursued a series of qualitative interviews to gain a deeper understanding of the resources available to transgender students and to identify potential barriers to full integration on college campuses. Ten transgender students were interviewed; all were between the ages of 18 and 24 years. Data were coded using grounded theory and a constant comparative approach. Themes include: awareness, safety, college and university policies, and support by trans-inclusion through programs and policies. These findings highlight the importance of transgender-specific information and broader education for both students and faculty, an improved climate regarding safety concerns, the impact of barriers experienced by transgender students, and ways in which transgender students can be supported by colleges and universities. One significant finding of this study is that many transgender students in this study rely on their college or university and its programs for support due to a lack of understanding available in their home environment. While most studies on transgender youth focus on adolescence, this study focuses on emerging adults and provides new avenues for supporting transgender students attending colleges and universities.

Note on the Author

Kayla Spagna graduated Bridgewater State University in December 2013 with Interdisciplinary Honors in English and Social Work. She graduated with a major in English, a concentration in Writing, a minor in Social Welfare, and a second minor in GLTB Studies. This research project was made possible through the Adrian Tinsley Summer Research Grant in 2012 under the mentorship of Dr. Laura Boutwell (Social Work). This project was presented in April 2013 at the National Conference on Undergraduate Research (NCUR) in La Crosse, Wisconsin.

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