Dissertations and Theses @ UNI


Thesis (UNI Access Only)


Gender identity; Sex role;


This thesis examines the societal categories of transgender and cisgender to better understand why we continue to separate them in a dichotomous fashion. Viewing gender through Judith Butler’s (1988) concept “gender performativity” and West and Zimmerman’s (1987) notion of “doing gender,” this study argues that these categories are unnecessary: If gender is established through action, one’s sex assigned at birth, regardless if one is transgender and cisgender, does not have a bearing on one’s gender identity. The literature review gives an overview of past research in this area, theoretical frameworks that help to conceptualize gender in ways that do not rely on biological ties, and the unique obstacles transgender individuals face as a result of being trans. This literature review highlights the idea that discrepancies between transgender and cisgender experiences currently stem from societal factors, not personal ones. To further demonstrate that transgender and cisgender individuals experience their gender more similarly than not, a quantitative analysis was conducted. Using the Bem Sex Role Inventory (BSRI), I compared the average Masculinity, Femininity, and Androgyny scores of transgender and cisgender individuals. Since the data show that significant differences in self-perception of gender do not exist, the results support that gender is not dependent on one’s sex assigned at birth. Thus, the dichotomous gender categories of transgender and cisgender are unnecessary.

Year of Submission


Degree Name

Master of Arts


Women's and Gender Studies Program

First Advisor

Susan Hill, Chair, Thesis Committee

Date Original


Object Description

1 PDF file (viii, 84 pages)



File Format


Off-Campus Download