Date of Award

January 2012

Degree Type

Open Access Thesis

Document Type

Master Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Justice Studies

First Advisor

Gary W. Potter

Department Affiliation

Justice Studies


Previous research on intimate partner and familial abuse has focused on easily identifiable social institutions, such as "homosexual couple" or "mother/daughter." However, transgender individuals do not always fit into the binary social definitions ascribed to family relationships. Little research has provided insight into cycles of familial and intimate partner verbal or physical abuse in the lives of transgender individuals. The efforts that have been made have shocking results and demonstrate a need for further and more in-depth research. The primary purpose of this research is to gain a rich understanding of the social dynamics affecting the lives of transgender individuals in central Kentucky; specifically, their family and relationship structures. Using an almost ethnographic approach, the researcher fully immersed herself in the subculture of the trans community, attending support group meetings and going out with the group members to places such as wig shops or used clothing stores in order to gain trust and acceptance. The findings were placed in the context of current theoretical literature about intimate partner and familial abuse.