Date of Award

Summer 8-2018

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Social Work (DSW)

First Advisor

Phyllis Solomon, PhD

Second Advisor

Genny Beemyn, PhD


This mixed-methods study aimed to examine the relationship between transgender students’ mental health with their perceptions of belonging, social support, and overall campus climate. It was hypothesized that transgender college students who perceive a more inclusive campus climate, higher levels of perceived belongingness, and higher levels of social supports within their college environment will experience lower severity of anxiety and depression symptoms. 117 respondents were recruited via online platforms and through active membership in professional organizations. All participants completed an anonymous online survey and provided responses to three open-ended qualitative questions about their campus experiences. Quantitative data was analyzed via multiple regression analyses by step and hypothesis-coding method was utilized for qualitative data. Multiple regression analyses found significant relationships between anxiety and the independent variables of perception of family social support (p2was .37. For depression, a significant relationship was found with the independent variable of perception of family social support (p2was .38. Qualitative analysis provided voice to respondents’ experiences with harassment, lack of family social support, self-stigma, and being out on campus. Fear of harassment, lack of family support, self-stigma, and lack of comfort in sharing one’s full identity to those around them directly influenced the severity of anxiety and depressive symptoms transgender college experience. Support is an essential component to navigating these challenges. It is critical advocates and allies be poised to assist and support this population through their undergraduate years. Clinical social workers are well-equipped to provide critical emotional supports necessary to address the mental health needs of this population, as well as administratively influencing the personal and campus environments experienced by these individuals.