Year of Award


Document Type


Degree Type

Master of Science (MS)

Degree Name

Health and Human Performance (Community Health Option)

Department or School/College

Department of Health and Human Performance

Committee Chair

Annie Sondag

Commitee Members

Gene Burns, Annie Belcourt


Montana, rural, gender binary, minority stress, HIV, grounded theory, photovoice technique, transgender


University of Montana


The transgender community has been identified as a group at high risk for HIV transmission and increased possibility for poor quality of life. This paper represents the results of a qualitative research study using interviews and Photovoice as methodologies to explore the contextual factors that define and shape the lives of people in Montana who identify as transgender, and specifically to explore factors that influence their risk of infection with HIV/AIDS. Ten major themes emerged from the interviews as well as the discussions surrounding the photographs. Sense of self was identified as a core category related to the overall health and risk behaviour of the transgender community in Montana. The other nine major categories, including 1) age of transition, 2) the importance of love, 3) availability of support, 4) passing as your identified gender, 5) normalization in society, 6) ignorance surrounding gender variance, 7) health care, 8) legal issues, and 9) life in Montana, were seen as contributing to the development of a stronger or weaker sense of self. The findings from this study will be used by the Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services to increase awareness of the lived experience and health needs of the transgender community in Montana.



© Copyright 2014 Anna Grace von Gohren