There is a lack of qualitative and strengths-based knowledge about the lived experience of transgender women of color in the US. To address this research gap, a Photovoice project was undertaken with five transgender women living in a small urban area. Thematic analysis of the participants’ discussion of their photographs identified three major themes: hope, courage, and resilience. Analysis suggests a framework for understanding these women’s lived experiences and the psychosocial tools that they use to negotiate their daily lives and persevere in the face of interpersonal and structural oppression.


Transgender Women, Photovoice, Hope, Courage, Resilience, Women of Color

Author Bio(s)

Nadine Ruff, MSW, is an LGBT activist and the founder of Divinely You, a support group for transgender people based in New Haven, CT. She works for APNH, a non-profit organization in New Haven, as the Program Coordinator of Aging Positively, an evidence-based intervention for people living with HIV who are age 50 and older. As a social worker, Nadine uses her clinical and community organizing to strengthen vulnerable communities. Nadine’s education background includes an AA in Human Services, from Gateway Community College (New Haven, CT) and a BSW (2017) and an MSW (2019) from Southern Connecticut State University (New Haven, CT). As an undergraduate student, Nadine earned Honors’ Distinction, graduating Cum Laude, and was awarded the 2017 Social Justice Award by the Department of Social Work, the 2014 Outstanding Scholastic Performance in Human Services Fieldwork, and the 2013 Frank Adams Jurczyk Scholarship Award. Correspondence regarding this article can be addressed directly to: RuffN2@southernct.edu.

Amy B. Smoyer, MSW, PhD, is an Assistant Professor of Social Work at Southern Connecticut State University. Her program of research examines women's lived experience of incarceration and the impact of this experience on health and psychosocial outcomes. Areas of focus include HIV care and prevention, food-related behavior, bladder health, housing stability, sexual orientation, and gender identity. Correspondence regarding this article can also be addressed directly to: SmoyerA1@southernct.edu.

Jean M. Breny is Professor and Chair of the Department of Public Health at Southern Connecticut State University. She has been on the faculty since 2000 and teaches undergraduate and graduate-level health promotion courses. Dr. Breny received her PhD in Health Behavior/Health Education from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (2000) and her MPH in Community Health Education from San Jose State University (1994). Dr. Breny also holds a visiting professorship at the Public Health Institute at Liverpool John Moores University and is an Associate Scientist at the Center for Interdisciplinary Research on AIDS (Yale University). She has worked in Izmir, Turkey as a Fulbright Senior Specialist in Global/Public Health and currently is President of the Society for Public Health Education (SOPHE). Dr. Breny’s scholarship aims to eliminate health disparities through qualitative research methods through a community-based participatory research paradigm that informs public health practice. Along with colleagues at Southern Connecticut State and Yale Universities, she is developing a Center for Health Equity and Eliminating Racism (CHEER) that will train students in anti-racist research. Additionally, she is co-authoring a research methods book on Photovoice methods for Sage Publishing. Correspondence regarding this article can also be addressed directly to: BrenyJ1@southernct.edu.

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