Conceptualizations of religion In a sample of female-to-male transsexuals: an interpretative phenomenological analysis
Hopwood, Ruben Alden
MetadataShow full item record
BACKGROUND: Researchers have attempted to modify some measures of religiosity/spirituality to address disparities in examining practices and beliefs in non-European minority groups; however, no one has modified or tested religion scales to address disparities between transgender and non-transgender populations. Research using existing scales proved inadequate with a female-to-male transsexual (FTM) population. To begin to modify instruments for applicability to a FTM population requires gaining more knowledge about this population with regard to religion. Research shows individuals who are transgender face resistance to and rejection of their identities beginning early in life. Reliance on majority religions and their concepts of divinity, embodiment--one's experience of having a particular body--and views of immutable, or essential, human qualities based on sex assigned at birth, may create significant problems when interacting with transgender populations. The significance of this study is in learning how a sample of FTMs conceptualize and experience religion to effect more competent interactions with this marginalized people. Interactions based on increased competency with and understanding of FTMs will contribute to improved long-term health outcomes and overall quality of life for this population. Further, exploring the experiences and beliefs of FTMs may challenge our assumptions and understandings about gender itself, expanding our knowledge about human experience of embodiment, and offering insights into traditional concepts of creation and humanity. RESULTS: This study reports a qualitative investigation of the understanding and experience of religion held by six FTM individuals. All participants completed five or more years of cross-sex hormone treatment with testosterone and identified as male. Methods from Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis (IPA) guided analysis of semistructured interviews and sample size. Four common themes are presented: rejection of early concepts of religion; connection with others; construction of a way of life; and provision of a source of redefinition and reincarnation. The participants' understandings of religion do not principally parallel those in commonly studied populations. The study's most significant finding is that every participant had a fundamental break from religious tradition as he learned it. The researcher concludes by offering preliminary recommendations for clinical interventions and future research.