Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Social Work


School of Social Work

First Reader/Committee Chair

Teresa Morris


The purpose of this study was to examine the experiences of transgender and nonbinary individuals who have accessed or are thinking of seeking gender-affirming medical care in a rural California county. The study adopted a post-positivist approach, and data was gathered from ten qualitative interviews with study participants. In the data analysis phase, the researcher utilized a bottoms-up approach and engaged in open, axial, and selective coding. Data analysis of qualitative interviews revealed sixteen open codes and connections between these codes. These codes were then categorized into three themes: the impact of an individual’s experience when accessing care, barriers to gender-affirming care in a rural area, and client-centered suggestions for mitigating barriers to care.

After examining the data, the researcher identified the need for a culturally competent, individualized, and inclusive approach to gender-affirming a rural California county as the core concept arising from the data. This concept is explored, and transgender and nonbinary participants propose suggestions for achieving this. These suggestions include updating medical forms to be inclusive, implementing robust, culturally competent training for medical providers and their staff, and offering an individualized approach to care that meets the needs of the individual and their transition. This research contributes to both micro and macro levels of social work by highlighting the experiences and needs of transgender and nonbinary individuals in rural California. This can impact clinical practice and aid in creating and implementing inclusive provider policies.

Included in

Social Work Commons