Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts in Communication Studies


Communication Studies

First Reader/Committee Chair

Taylor, Julie


Despite attending the same universities and working toward the same degrees, trans students and cisgender students do not always have the same experiences during their college years. In addition to the hardships associated with being a university student, members of trans communities often also face gender-based discrimination and challenges that their cisgender counterparts do not. Although the mid-size Southern California university at which this research took place has taken steps toward fostering an accepting climate for all students, the transmale, gender nonconforming, and gender nonbinary students who participated in this study continue to experience a layer of rejection due to their gender identities and expressions. Using queer theory and feminist standpoint theory, this study sought to learn about the perceptions of acceptance at this university from the standpoints of members of its trans communities. Co-cultural communication theory was also used, in order to explore the communication strategies utilized by trans students as they navigate the differing levels of self-perceived acceptance at this university. Through these theoretical lenses and thematic analysis, it was determined that the variety of communication strategies utilized by trans students was impacted by perceptions of acceptance or rejection and that this university must take action to create a more accepting campus climate for its trans students. A list of actions universities could take, provided by the participants of this study, has been included in the discussions chapter.