Date of Award

Winter 2-28-2019

Degree Type


Degree Name

PhD Nursing




Judith Lothian, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Marie Foley, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Munira Wells, Ph.D.


parents, transgender, adolescents, experience, nursing



Background: According to the Williams Institute at the UCLA School of Law, about 150,000 U.S. adolescents aged 13-17 identify as transgender (Singhal, 2018). Therefore, parents of these growing number of adolescents face the daily struggles of being a parent of a transgender adolescent.

Purpose of the Study: A scant amount of research exists on the multitude of issues that parents of transgender/ non-binary adolescents confront in seeking guidance and support with the challenges they face daily. There is little in the literature concerning the experience of being a parent of a transgender/non-binary teen. Hence, the purpose of this study was to answer the research question, “What is the experience of being a parent of a transgender adolescent?”

Method: Phenomenological inquiry was used to gain insight into the participants’ experiences. Multiple open-ended interviews were conducted. Data were analyzed and the themes that emerged from the data were documented in the written narrative.

Results: The parents could make meaning of their experience of being a parent of a transgender/non-binary adolescent. Despite the difficulties these parents often face, the unconditional love for their child remains unfaltering. Nine themes emerged from this study: Grief and loss, Fear for their child’s physical, emotional, and mental well-being, Fear for the future, Advocacy, Sibling acceptance, Frustration with health care providers, They are still the same person, Intolerance of unaccepting, unsupportive parents, and Finding meaning. One meta-theme also emerged: Unconditional love.

Conclusion: The most significant finding of this study is the participants need to advocate and protect their adolescent from a harsh, judgmental society with the strong hope and conviction that their child will one day soon be welcomed into a loving, accepting humanity.