Degree Name

Doctor of Education in Leadership (Ed.D.)

Type of Paper/Work



Jayne K. Sommers

Second Advisor

Leah Reinert

Third Advisor

Aura Wharton-Beck


This qualitative, multiple case study examined the factors that affect classroom experiences of trans* college students in the United States pursuing associate, bachelor’s, master’s, or doctoral degrees. Participants included 19 students with a variety of trans identities attending various institutions across the United States. I conducted initial interviews with each participant at the beginning of the spring 2021 semester, collected monthly written reflections throughout the semester, and conducted a final interview with each participant at the end of the term. This study was conducted during the COVID-19 pandemic, and thus, interviews were conducted virtually. I used open coding to analyze the interview transcripts and reflections, then identified categories and themes. Analysis revealed five themes: Navigating gender identity, the power of language, the trans* tax, the (mis)education of sex and gender, and community. I interpreted the findings using Bronfenbrenner’s (1976) ecological systems theory and queer theory. This study provides many recommendations to stakeholders, including instructors, institutions of higher education, students, families, and more.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

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