Experiences of Self-Compassion in Young Adults with Non-Binary Gender Identities

  • Author / Creator
    Budzan, Brittany N
  • Despite accounting for a significant proportion of the transgender population, non-binary individuals are often neglected within research. Studies that do include non-binary participants are often focused on deficit, stigma, and mental health disparities, resulting in a narrow and one-sided understanding of the experiences of non-binary people. Although it is important to be aware of the impacts of societal marginalization, it is crucial that health professionals also understand the strengths and resiliency of this group.
    Young adulthood is a particularly important development period for non-binary individuals. A defining feature of this developmental stage is identity instability, often accompanied by a sense of confusion and uncertainty. Considering that many non-binary individuals transition during this time period, an understanding of the strengths and potential coping skills of non-binary young adults is beneficial for all helping professionals.
    A potential coping skill for non-binary young adults is self-compassion. Broadly, self-compassion can be conceptualized as the capacity to treat oneself with kindness and understanding. Existing research has found that self-compassion helps to improve mental well-being and life satisfaction, and can also act as a protective force, buffering against the effects of trauma, discrimination, and internalized stigma. Accordingly, self-compassion merits investigation as a source of resiliency for non-binary young adults. However, this area of study currently represents a significant gap within the existing literature.
    The purpose of this study was to explore the experiences of self-compassion in non-binary young adults. To this end, I utilized an interpretative phenomenological analysis approach, engaging in in-depth interviews with seven participants. Transcripts for each interview were coded and grouped into higher order themes. After analyzing individual cases, I conducted a cross-case analysis, from which emerged five super-ordinate themes: (a) intentional self-care; (b) developing a positive sense of self; (c) living with authenticity; (d) improved coping through perspective taking, and (e) self-compassion as an interpersonal process. The findings from this study suggest that self-compassion may be a positive strategy for promoting mental health and well-being in non-binary young adults. Implications for clinical practice are discussed, in addition to limitations and future research directions.

  • Subjects / Keywords
  • Graduation date
    Fall 2023
  • Type of Item
  • Degree
    Doctor of Philosophy
  • DOI
  • License
    This thesis is made available by the University of Alberta Libraries with permission of the copyright owner solely for non-commercial purposes. This thesis, or any portion thereof, may not otherwise be copied or reproduced without the written consent of the copyright owner, except to the extent permitted by Canadian copyright law.