Trevor Waagen

Date of Award

January 2022

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Counseling Psychology & Community Services

First Advisor

Kara Wettersten


Gender identity development models in psychology for transgender individuals have typically combined the experiences of binary transgender and non-binary transgender people into the same group. However, differences may exist between the two communities. Therefore, the present study sought to explore the lived experiences of non-binary adults and their gender identity development process. Through the lens of grounded theory (Charmaz, 2014), semi-structured, qualitative interviews were conducted with 10 non-binary participants to collect rich data on their gender identity development process. Transcriptions were coded and reviewed to develop themes and categories. The themes included: Connection and relationships, intersectionality and culture, gender in childhood and adolescence, gender in emerging adulthood, and gender actualization and liberation. A dynamic gender identity development model was created to illustrate the themes and categories developed from the data provided by participants. The themes from the non-binary participants share some commonalities with binary transgender individuals; however, some findings were unique to the non-binary community, indicating binary and non-binary transgender individuals may not be regarded as the same community.