Gender diverse persons have historically and presently faced unique challenges, marginalization, and discrimination. The lived experiences of the transgender nonconforming population are still widely unresearched, and most research treats transgender and transgender nonconforming (TGNC) people as a homogeneous group. This neglects the nuanced and diverse experience of the TGNC population. This integrative systematic review of the literature was conducted in order to identify and highlight the experiences of transgender nonconforming persons in the context of a binarily set world. The following questions guided this study: (a) What are the identity-related experiences of non-binary individuals in the context of gender dichotomization?, (b) What are the social and relational experiences of non-binary individuals in the context of gender dichotomization?, and (c) What are the psychotherapy and counseling experiences of nonbinary individuals in the context of gender dichotomization? The comprehensive search process yielded 24 qualitative studies that met inclusion criteria. Review findings suggest that the TGNC community is heterogeneous in their gender identities and experience their gender journey as nuanced and unique to the individual and in the context of their other socio-cultural identities. Additionally, themes of acceptance from family, peers, romantic partners, mental health providers, and educational systems appeared to promote overall socio-emotional wellness, while rejection appeared to exacerbate mental health problems and lead to internalized negative attitudes directed at oneself. Though only two studies directly looked at the therapeutic relationship and mental health outcomes, data suggests that the TGNC community benefits from providers educating themselves about the TGNC community, while also cultivating a safe and affirming environment.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Gender-nonconforming people--Identity; Gender-nonconforming people; Gender identity

Date of Award


School Affiliation

Graduate School of Education and Psychology



Degree Type


Degree Name


Faculty Advisor

Shelly Harrell