“We’re just two people in a relationship”: A qualitative exploration of emotional bond and fairness experiences between transgender women and their cisgender partners

Jennifer Coppola, Rashmi Gangamma, Erica Hartwell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Trans-including couples experience systemic marginalization impacting their relationships, yet studies on these relationships or narratives of strength are few. The purpose of this qualitative study was to explore emotional bonding and perceptions of fairness between transgender women and their cisgender partners. Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis was utilized to answer the research question: What are the experiences of emotional bond and fairness between transgender women and their cisgender partners? This research was situated within frameworks of minority stress, romantic attachment, and contextual therapy. Seven couples of transgender women and cisgender partners were interviewed. Three themes emerged: Minority Stress Contexts and Relational Strengths; The Experience of Emotional Bond; and Negotiating Balance. Processes of boundary creation, attunement, affirmations, and balance of care were noted. Findings reframe partner relationships as opportunities to construct transphobia-resistant and resilient narratives. Recommendations for clinicians include prioritizing the couple subsystem as an avenue for building resilience against minority stress.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalJournal of marital and family therapy
DOIs
StateAccepted/In press - 2021

Keywords

  • emotional bond
  • fairness
  • minority stress
  • trans-including couples
  • transgender women

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Sociology and Political Science

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