Transgender and gender diverse consumers on navigating the stigmatized process of gender affirmation in the Central Plains USA

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Document Type


Publication Title

Qualitative Market Research




Purpose: Transgender and gender diverse (TGD) individuals who choose to begin a gender affirmation journey often find the experience challenging. This can be a highly stigmatized process, and TGD consumers must strategically interact with brands and products to successfully construct authentic identities. Therefore, the purpose of this study was to obtain a better understanding of the TGD individual’s identity transformation within the consumption context. Design/methodology/approach: Interviews were conducted with 27 TGD individuals about their gender affirmation journeys. The process of in vivo coding and thematic coding were applied for inductive analysis. Through subsequent analysis, parities with concepts from stigma management theory and Alvesson’s (2010) self-identity metaphors were identified. Findings: The results of this study illustrated seven themes of TGD consumption patterns in relation to the gender affirmation journey. Awakening marks the watershed realization of a TGD identity, a cessation of some consumption habits and an emergence of new ones. Exhibiting is a form of information control and often transpired with new clothing purchases. Shifting one’s name and pronouns on identification documents is a means of covering. Remaking typically involves the procurement of medical services such as hormonal prescriptions and/or surgical procedures. Disclosing to individuals in one’s reference groups is a method of assessing (and maintaining) the wise, the curious and the oblivious. Rebelling against the stereotypes of masculinity and femininity in media portrayals and leisure activities is a technique to express one’s eccentricity and quirkiness. Finally, releasing describes the potentially waning TGD label and a somewhat stabilizing pattern of consumption. A model of TGD consumers is presented, and key assertions are discussed. Originality: The variety and complexity of consumer purchases associated with gender affirmation journeys were investigated, and it was revealed that many of these consumption choices aided in the TGD individual’s stigma management as well. The key assertions presented here progress the literature on gender affirmation journeys by predicting patterns of consumption.

Funding Number


Funding Sponsor

National Institutes of Health


Gender affirmation, Identity, In-depth interviews, Lived experience, Qualitative research, Stigma management, Transgender