Moving Beyond the Binary: Understanding Career-Related Issues and Concerns of Trans Students

August 1, 2021 | By Sandra Buatti-Ramos

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TAGS: diversity and inclusion, journal, lgbtq,

NACE Journal, August 2021

Career services professionals are charged with serving the needs of designated clients but may not have the understanding needed to ensure services address the specific challenges and concerns of certain groups, including those of trans students. This article offers a look at some of the bigger issues trans clients face in their job search and in the workplace; the goal is to provide career services professionals with insights that can help them think about how they can support their trans clients in their career decision-making, job search, and career management.

“Trans” Defined

It is critical to specify how the term “trans” is used throughout this article. Various definitions are used to refer to those whose gender identity does not mirror their assigned sex at birth or neatly align within the false gender binary. Here, Beemyn’s definition of “trans” has been adopted to refer to “individuals with both binary and nonbinary transgender identities.”1 This definition applies to a variety of gender identities and should not be understood to apply only to those whose gender identity falls within the gender binary (trans male, male, trans female, or female). Beemyn’s definition is inclusive of those who identify as nonbinary, gender nonconforming, demigender, gender fluid, and genderqueer, and who use other terminology to define their gender. The reader should be mindful that numerous gender identities are captured under this broad definition and that gender identity terminology is highly personal and individualistic. As such, some individuals may not be comfortable with the fact that they have been included under the umbrella term “trans,” especially if they do not identify as “trans,” but rather as one of many gender identities incorporated in Beemyn’s definition.

The reader also should note that there continues to exist disagreement on terminology and definitions that refer to non-cisgender identities, and that application of any definition of “trans” or other related gender identity terminology should be accompanied by an explanation of how the language is being used as well as the intent behind such usage. The author acknowledges that individuals covered under this umbrella terminology may not self-identify as trans and may not wish to be referred to using such language.

Historical and Systemic Marginalization of People of Trans Experience

Trans populations are among the most marginalized in modern society. Individuals identifying among these populations suffer from mental health ailments, including depression, anxiety, eating disorders, self-injury, and suicidality, at rates two to four times higher than that of cisgender populations, attempt suicide at rates significantly higher than that of the general population, and experience harassment and other maltreatment when seeking medical care. 2, 3, 4 Trans populations also experience high rates of verbal harassment, intimate partner violence, sexual assault, and sexual misconduct.5, 6, 7

Trans individuals also face discrimination in housing, experience alarming rates of homelessness, and are much more likely than the general population to live in poverty, with four times as many trans individuals earning less than $10,000 per year despite some having earned a bachelor’s degree.8 People of trans experience are also unemployed at rates twice that of the general population and report high rates of discrimination on the job.9, 10

Workplace discrimination among trans populations has been well documented. Researchers documented at least 13 studies dating back to 1997 that measured workplace bias or discrimination of trans individuals, including denial of employment, on-the-job harassment, denial of promotions, issues related to healthcare coverage, and more.11 Reports published by others support previous study findings, identifying similar forms of workplace discrimination among trans populations.12, 13

Considering the systemic marginalization of trans populations and their vulnerability to bias and discrimination in the workplace, it reasons that college and university career services practitioners should be highly skilled in coaching or counseling methods and intervention designed for trans clients and able to provide effective office services for trans populations.

Issues Impacting Career Decision-Making Among Trans College Students

To construct effective career interventions and assist clients in successfully achieving career goals, career services practitioners are expected to understand and appreciate the entirety of clients’ career lifespans, which begin at approximately age four and continue through their career disengagement (ages 65+).14, 15 They are also often required to draw out, listen to, and identify themes in client narratives that reveal important clues about their career choices and development and understand how clients’ self-efficacy and outcome expectations interact with their career goals.16, 17, 18 Without awareness of the issues impacting trans individuals’ career development or personal narratives and how such issues may influence the career decisions and development of people of trans experience, career services practitioners will lack effectiveness.

For career services practitioners to effectively provide the most basic level of service to trans students—which involves the ability to identify client needs and motivations for help-seeking behavior, understand clients’ “personal characteristics and life experiences” relevant to career preparation, and identify clients’ decision-making processes—they must be knowledgeable of population-specific issues that impact the career decision-making of their clients.19 While, as Kirk and Belovics asserted, trans career clients are not radically different from their cisgender peers in that they “have the same need for resolution, respect, effective representation, and returned phone calls,” and may require similar career interventions, the systemic marginalization they experience is likely to impact their career choices and produce population-specific concerns related to career development.20

According to Beemyn, the manner in which various issues impact trans students’ decision-making are dependent upon where each student is in their gender identity development and how that identity interacts with the rigid, false gender binary perpetuated in American society.21 While trans students may confront varying issues at different stages of their gender identity development and career lifespan evolution, interviews with trans college students revealed a variety of distinct concerns related to their career management.

Career choice based on acceptance, rejection of identity

While most cisgender students circumscribe career choices as they develop a self-concept and make compromises based on external factors, e.g., family situations or labor market demands, trans students are often obliged by their involuntary marginalized social status to contend with what Beemyn refers to as both unconscious and conscious career path steering based on perceived or actual acceptance or rejection of their identities in particular fields of expertise, companies or organizations, or geographic or social climates.22, 23 This assertion is supported by research conducted by Budge, Tebbe, and Howard, which found that a majority of trans study participants expressed that they feel their career prospects are limited specifically by their gender identity status and that, had they not been transgender, their career choices would have been more heavily influenced by their interests.24

Students participating in interviews for this article echoed similar career prospect limitation concerns. (For details about the interviews, see “Interviews: Methodology.”) In their interview, the undergraduate student expressed their belief that professions that are deeply entrenched in genderism and binary gendered customs, such as banking, law, and economics, force trans students to choose between “falling into submission” or living as their true selves. They asserted that because they are not willing to submit to gain access to a profession, they feel that they are limited in their career options. In fact, at the time of the interview, the undergraduate student had recently changed their major course of study and career field of choice in response to anticipated discrimination and transphobia in the STEM fields and the prejudice they experienced while completing an engineering internship; in explaining the change in major, the student noted that “I can’t do my best work if I’m not my most genuine self.”25

It appears that, for this student, presenting and enacting their gender is critical to their ability to produce their best quality work, and that the ability to produce high-quality work is an important driver of their career decision-making.

The graduate student interviewee framed the limitation of career prospects based on gender identity status as a choice between access to certain professions or personal dignity—as the ability to pursue a fulfilling career that aligns with one’s interests and abilities or avoidance of oppression or discrimination in the workplace. The student noted that “there are certain professions where… [trans people] have straight up just been told…you can take this job knowing what it is, or you don't. [You] have a choice, a job or your dignity. [That] obviously can go for cis people as well, but, it's a different thing when it comes down to something so personal about who you are.”26

The fact that trans students may often have to contemplate a choice between the ability to pursue a career that aligns with their career self-concept and their ability to live authentically and express their gender is a symptom of systemic marginalization. This fixed choice decision-making dichotomy should not be conflated with common compromises that impact the career decisions of cisgender individuals. The distinction is that trans students are subjugated by the dominant majority of those who adhere to the rigid, false gender binary and are forced to make Hobson's career choices based on their gender identities.

Legal protections, social climate, and geographic considerations

Beyond identifying career prospects, the career decisions of trans students, like other LGBTQIA+ individuals, are influenced by the legal protections offered in geographic locations as well as geographical social climates.27 These were mentioned as factors impacting the career decision-making of both the undergraduate and graduate student interviewees.

For the undergraduate student interviewee, legal protections offered by geographic location and social climate are factors of career decision-making, but less influential than other elements, such as income and cost of living, as long as a safety threshold is met. The student noted that “[If] I were to go down to Virginia and worked the job that I need to work and the cost of living is lower, I have a cell phone, I can call my friends back in New York. I can have conversations with these people. I don't need to leave my place of living…if I feel somewhat generally safe enough, like I'm not going to get lynched on the streets for what I'm presenting myself as.”28

However, for the graduate student interviewee, legal protections offered by geographic location and social climate appeared to be much more significant factors in the career decision-making process. This student noted that the first thing they consider in seeking a job is “location, location, location” because “certain places aren't necessarily [trans, gender nonconforming, nonbinary] friendly.”29

Navigating career choice

Students of trans experience must also navigate a host of decisions related to their gender identities that ultimately influence their career choices—decisions that cisgender students need not consider when job searching. For trans students, even the simplest of tasks, such as researching target employers, writing a resume, or applying for jobs, are often complicated by genderism. These activities frequently force trans students to make the choice between revealing or covering their gender identities. Such choices are often difficult for trans individuals as the act of revealing their gender identity or “coming out” as trans can result in what Kirk and Belovics referred to as “undesirable career consequences.”30 Such consequences can lead to unjust employment rejection31 or a host of negative outcomes, including “physical assault, verbal harassment and abuse, destruction of property, ridicule, homophobic jokes, unfair work schedules, workplace sabotage, and restrictions to the careers of these individuals.”32 A separate study published in 2016 found that in the year prior to data collection for the study, 27% of trans survey participants who applied for a job or maintained employment during that period reported not being hired, being fired, or being denied a promotion on the basis of their gender identity.33 These realities are common among trans populations and necessitate mindful decision-making on the part of trans job applicants when fulfilling some of the most mundane job-search tasks.

In their interviews, both the undergraduate student and graduate student indicated that, when approaching the job or internship search process, they will assume that employment environments are hostile until proven otherwise. Both also stated that they perform targeted research into employer backgrounds prior to applying for open positions in an attempt to determine whether the organizations are trans friendly. When asked what concerns them most when considering potential employers, the undergraduate student interviewee explained that company history of dealing with LGBTQ employees in the workplace is a major concern. The student noted that it is hard to work for an organization “that doesn’t align with the things that I care about and things that I want to promote in my betterment of humanity. So, if [there are] any previous firings due to LGBTQ stuff, if [there are] donations to certain companies that don't benefit but hinder the lives of trans folk and queer folk, that's something I totally look for when I go into a job search.”

In addition to researching historical and current treatment of LGBTQIA+ employees and employers’ contributions to particular causes or organizations, the undergraduate student interviewee indicated that non-discrimination policies are also of particular importance when searching for employers. The graduate student interviewee agreed that non-discrimination policies are of interest in evaluating the potential inclusivity of specific employers or gauging the safety of work environments but revealed what could be understood as a healthy skepticism of such policies, noting that “I think people can lie. I think people have diversity invisible quotas and they're trying to fill these spots and show that they're progressive and I'm not a tool or a vehicle for them to do that. I'm a person who has other things to offer. That's also important. I'm this ‘and’ [trans nonbinary identity], and plenty of other things.”

While they value non-discrimination policies, both the undergraduate and graduate student interviewees are suspicious of the strength and enforcement of workplace protections. The student interviewees indicated that they do not indiscriminately trust employers based on visible non-discrimination policies, and that they are wary of workplace climates even when non-discrimination policies are publicly available. The undergraduate student interviewee explained that they don’t believe that non-discrimination policies reveal the true culture or inclusiveness of a workplace.

Once they have identified a position for which to apply, the student interviewees have to carefully decide how to manage their resume construction. The graduate student interviewee, who uses a name other than their legal name, revealed that they face trans-specific decisions about their resume creation that most cisgender individuals do not encounter, including what name to include on their resume. The act of using their real name—a name other than the one assigned to them at birth—may reveal or hint at the status of their gender identity. Other resume considerations include whether to list leadership experiences in LGBTQIA+ clubs or organizations or other LGBTQIA+ activities.34 Listing such activities will indicate some affiliation, even if by allyship, to the LGBTQIA+ communities, and therefore may expose the student to risk of discrimination in the hiring process. Considering that leadership is a core career readiness competency,35 trans students may face the unfortunate choice to either potentially disclose their trans identities or sacrifice highly valued experience.

The process of applying for a specific position can also require students of trans experience to decide between revealing or covering their gender identities. Trans job or internship applicants may be forced to justify their use of their real (non-legal) name, explain the differences between their real (non-legal) name and the name on educational documents and/or previous employment engagements, explain that they have changed gender identities, or settle for the perception that they have less relevant experience.36

Applications, names, and pronouns

For student interviewees, the structure of job or internship applications can be telling. The undergraduate student interviewee revealed that specific questions on job applications or the lack thereof are signals used to determine the perceived level of inclusiveness of an organization and the potential level of safety they may experience in a workplace. Not asking for an applicant’s pronouns is viewed negatively by the undergraduate student interviewee and perceived as a lack of inclusivity and a signal to potential safety risks in the workplace. In addition, the student noted that questions about the applicant’s pronouns and the language around pronoun questions can be revealing. The student viewed language such as “preferred” or “chosen” pronouns negatively as they undermine the legitimacy of one’s gender identity.

The graduate student interviewee echoed similar concerns about pronouns on employment applications, and expressed that the lack of a pronoun question or a poorly worded pronoun question could turn them off to a potential job. They explained their dissatisfaction with being forced to choose between two binary gender options when choosing from a pronoun category question on a job application.

When deciding which name to use on a job application, trans students whose names do not match their legal names may experience significant difficulty. Applications that do not allow for a distinction between a name used by a person of trans experience and the one attached to their legal identification, educational records, or previous employment documents can also diminish a trans candidate’s enthusiasm for applying to a specific position and signal a lack of inclusivity and perceived safety risks in a workplace. The same goes for poorly worded questions related to an applicant’s name. The undergraduate student explained how language around name questions can be hurtful: “Obviously, I hate the word ‘chosen’ name. It's just my name.”

The graduate student voiced similar comments about name questions on applications: “I think you can have a space for a legal name…and then a section that's not necessarily mandatory [where] if your legal name does not match the name you use, feel free to input that name here.”

The graduate student interviewee went on to express frustration with the fact that most applications do not specify clearly which name is required for certain sections of the applications or other employment documents that are legally binding, such as offer letters, saying, “I hate having…to fill out paperwork for something and then [having] to ask…do I have to use my legal name or can I use the name I go by? It's awful…[especially] when I'm signing paperwork. Am I allowed to use my non-legal name, or do I have to use my legal name? To have to ask that is uncomfortable, annoying, and something a lot of other people don't have to think about.”

While neither student voiced discomfort with disclosing their trans identities on their resumes or job applications, many other trans students may feel differently. Such individuals may worry that answering questions about their pronouns or legal names could lead to undesired self-disclosures.

It is important to note that pronouns and names are not the only common elements of job applications that are indicative of a candidate’s gender identity. Beck cautioned that the use of honorifics “all have gendered connotations and require some kind of assumption on your part about the gender of the person you are addressing.”37 As with questions about pronouns or names, inquiries about a candidate’s honorifics can force some trans students to disclose and evoke discomfort or fear of potential discrimination. While most applications may have honorific response options for binary gender identifying individuals, such as Mrs., Ms., Miss, or Mr., few have gender neutral options, such as Mx., Ind., M., Misc., Mre., Msr., Myr., Pr., Sai., or Ser.38 The lack of inclusive honorifics on job applications can pose challenges for people of trans experience and signal that a workplace may be hostile or unsafe.

Interviews and gender expression

The typical next step in the recruitment process is an interview. At this stage, many trans individuals experience a variety of concerns about how to manage their gender identity presentation. Budge, Tebbe, and Howard documented a discussion with a trans job applicant who faced an awkward encounter with an employer upon their arrival at work; the hiring manager made assumptions about the applicant’s identity based on the depth of their voice during a phone interview.39 According to the trans candidate, the employer was convinced that they had hired a man and was surprised when the candidate presented as a woman and filled out their paperwork with female gender indicators. In some cases, trans students will have to contend with physical characteristics, e.g., voice, physical build, facial hair or a lack thereof, during the interview process. They may worry about being read as a specific gender or being hypervisible as a result of their physical characteristics, or contemplate covering their gender to manage the interview process.40

Others, as is the case with the undergraduate and graduate student interviewees, may worry about how they should present themselves during interviews. They may also worry about how the interviewers will respond to their gender identity expression or presentation during an interview, particularly as it relates to their choice of attire. The undergraduate student interviewee provided detail around what can be anxiety-producing interactions and how fears about potential discrimination can affect how they present themselves during interviews, saying, “[We] know that we're going to get judged the second that we walk in there, and we get scared that… we won't get employed [and] won't be able to fund ourselves, and we'll be part of the homeless queer community that is ravaging our main cities, [for] just being ourselves… [That] makes us want to not be who we are. It makes us want to present a certain way so we'll actually get hired and then maybe have a haircut or maybe wear a blazer [and pants] instead of a of a skirt.”

Likewise, the graduate student interviewee expressed concerns about potential discrimination based on how they might dress for interviews. They also mentioned that even in queer workplaces that are thought to be inclusive of trans individuals, they have experienced pressure to cover their gender identity in order to meet the expectations others hold about how they should dress or present themselves as a nonbinary person. Even in workplaces that are thought to be safe for people of trans experience, there can exist pressure to cover or conform to specific modes of gender identity expression, such as attire.

In the workplace

In the event that a trans candidate receives an offer letter from an employer, they may have particular concerns about benefits and workplace policies. Healthcare benefits can be of critical importance to trans candidates who require or desire specific procedures, such as hormones, top surgery, or sex reassignment surgeries.41 Even for those who do not wish to undergo procedures themselves, the inclusion of healthcare coverage for these procedures can be a significant issue of interest as they want to support others who do.

Beyond healthcare benefits, trans students may be concerned about restroom availability and policies dictating usage. Trans individuals may experience difficulties gaining admittance to appropriate facilities.42 The issue of restroom access may be very emotional for people of trans experience.43
In addition to restroom policies, professional dress codes may also be significant considerations for trans students when deciding whether to work for a particular employer. Both the undergraduate student interviewee and the graduate student interviewee referred to professional dress code policy as a critical issue when evaluating a workplace. The graduate student interviewee noted that “I like to make that choice of my own volition, not because someone's telling me I need to…[If] I'm told I have to wear a dress, there's a good chance I'm not [going to] work there. If I'm told I'm only allowed to wear ‘x’ and I can't dress as I want outside of these…binary gender expression norms, I'm not…keen on that. I don't like that.”

Workplace dress code policies are often built around a company’s professional standards of what it considers appropriate attire. Employers have historically been allowed to direct employee attire under the veil of “community norms,” which courts have deemed permissible as long as their effect on employees has been considered neutral or trivial.44 However, in the context of gender identity expression, forcing a person to deny their gender identity or present as a gender with which they do not identify based on their assigned sex at birth cannot be classified as neutral or trivial. Some states have attempted to protect trans individuals by passing legislation barring workplace discrimination based on gender identity and expression;45 however, many employers continue to perpetuate antiquated ideals regarding standards of professional dress.

When trans students evaluate employer policies, and are confronted with professional dress codes that appear to be aligned with outmoded professional dress standards, they may be forced to choose between a fruitful career opportunity and their ability to be who they are and present themselves in a way that is true to their gender identities. While this forced Hobson’s choice between living and presenting as one’s true self or giving up a career opportunity (and potentially descending into poverty or homelessness) may seem similar to the circumscription or sacrifices made on the part of cisgender individuals, the fact remains that it is distinguished by the marginalized status into which trans individuals are involuntary positioned by those whose gender identities neatly align within the oppressive, false gender binary.

The graduate student interviewee articulated the issue, noting, “I say blow the dust off of your professionalism handbook, take a look at it, and make it better. We're not in the ’50s anymore and we shouldn't aspire to keep those norms. We shouldn't aspire to keep things gendered. It's part of the reason there's gender inequality and inequity between men and women. You know, cis-men and women to begin with. People like me are even more…shut out…. [and] nothing's going to get better if we try to stick with it. That's not professionalism. That's professionalism as viewed by the 1950s….[It’s] not unprofessional [to dress based on gender identity and expression]. It's just unprofessional to you….I challenge you to look outside of what you think…to see something else, to see the bigger picture.”

Implications for career services

Trans students may present at career services offices with varying concerns. While many such concerns may be routine or commonly experienced by college students more generally, others are likely to relate to complications in career management caused by their involuntary marginalized positions in American society. Career services practitioners need to be knowledgeable of the issues that complicate or impede trans students’ career decision-making and career management.

In addition to becoming aware and staying abreast of issues impacting the career decision-making and career management of trans students, career services practitioners should seek out professional competencies that can inform and guide their approaches to effective service of trans clientele.

With a better understanding of the issues impacting trans students and the foundation professional competencies can provide, career services practitioners are better positioned to seek out and implement as appropriate successful practices for trans clientele. For example, by enhancing student interactions with career services practitioners; creating and maintaining welcoming, inclusive office environments; creating career opportunities for trans students; advocating for more positive career outcomes of trans students; and engaging in continuous education, career services practitioners can create trust among trans student populations and more effectively serve students of trans experience. The increased efficacy of career services practitioners’ work with trans students will hopefully lead to more positive career outcomes for trans college and university students.

Those interested in improving the career outcomes of students of trans experience may also wish to study variables that impact the conscious and unconscious career path steering of trans students on both micro, meso, and macro levels. It would be interesting to identify threats to successful career outcomes at each level as well as variables that may mitigate negative effects or promote positive results among trans students. Considering the historic and present career-related outcomes of students of trans experience, researchers in higher education should expand research on such topics. 


1 Beemyn, G. (2019). Trans People in Higher Education. SUNY Press. Note that Beemyn’s definition aligns with that put forth by the Human Rights Campaign.

2 Lipson, S. K., Raifman, J. Abelson, S., and Reisner, S. L. (2019). Gender minority mental health in the U.S.: Results of a national survey on college campuses. American Journal of Preventative Medicine, 57(3): 293−301. Retrieved from

3 Grant, J.M., Mottet, L.A., and Tanis, J. (2011). Injustice at every turn: A report of the national transgender discrimination survey. Washington DC: National Center for Transgender Equality and National Gay and Lesbian Task Force. Retrieved from  

4 James, S. E., Herman, J. L., Rankin, S., Keisling, M., Mottet, L., and Anafi, M. (2016). The report of the 2015 U.S. transgender survey. Washington, DC: National Center for Transgender Equality and National Gay and Lesbian Task Force. Retrieved from /docs/USTS-Full-Report-FINAL.PDF.

5 Cantor, D., Fisher, B., Chibnall, S., Townsend, R. Hyunshik, L. Bruce, C., and Thomas, G. (2015). Report on the AAU campus climate survey on sexual assault and sexual misconduct. Rockville, Maryland: Westat. Retrieved from

6 Grant, J.M., et al., 2011.

7 James, S. E., et al., 2016.

8 Grant, J.M., et al., 2011.

9 Grant, J.M., et al., 2011.

10 Badgett, M., Lau, H., Sears, B., and Ho, D. (2007). Bias in the workplace: Consistent evidence of sexual orientation and gender identity discrimination. UCLA: The Williams Institute. Retrieved from

11 Badgett, M., et al., 2007.

12 Grant, J.M., et al., 2011.

13 James, S. E., et al., 2016.

14 Career Research (n.d.). Super’s career development theory. Retrieved from

15 Watson, M. (2019). The career development assessment and counseling model of Donald super. In N. Arthur (Ed.), Career theories and models at work: Ideas for practice. 443–451. Toronto, ON: CERIC.

16 McIlveen, P. F. and Patton, W. A. (2007) Narrative career counselling: Theory and exemplars of  practice. Australian Psychologist, 42(3), 226-235. Retrieved from

17 Staunton, T. (2015). Mark Savickas and life design—Theories every careers adviser should know. Retrieved from .

18 Leung, S.A. (2008). The five big career theories. In Athanasou, J.A. and-Van Esbroec, R.
(eds.), International Handbook of Career Guidance.115-132. Retrieved from .

19 National Association of Colleges and Employers (2013). Professional Competencies for College and University Career Services Practitioners, 9.

20 Kirk, J. and Belovics, R. (2008). Understanding and counseling transgender clients. Journal of Employment Counseling, (45), 35. Retrieved from 10.1002/j.2161-1920.2008.tb00042.x.

21 Beemyn, G. Personal communication, September, 24, 2019.

22 Leung, S.A. (2008).

23 Beemyn, G. Personal communication, September, 24, 2019.

24 Budge, S. L., Tebbe, E. N., & Howard, K. A. S. (2010). The work experiences of transgender individuals: Negotiating the transition and career decision-making processes. Journal of Counseling Psychology, 57, 377-393. Retrieved from doi: 10.1037/a0020472.

25 Undergraduate student, personal communication, September 20, 2019. All quotes from and references to this student are based on this communication.

26 Graduate student, personal communication, September 15, 2019. All quotes from and references to this student are based on this communication.

27 Kirk, J. and Belovics, R. (2008). 29-43. Retrieved from 10.1002/j.2161-1920.2008.tb00042.x.

28 Beemyn, G. Personal communication, September, 24, 2019.

29 Budge, S. L., et al., 2010.

30 Kirk, J. and Belovics, R. (2008). 32.

31 Motulsky, S. and Frank, E. (2018, April 2). Creating positive spaces for career counseling with transgender clients. National Career Development Association. Retrieved from

32 Kirk, J. and Belovics, R. (2008). 32-33.

33 James, S. E., et al., 2016.

34 Beck, B.L. (2015, August 1). Supporting transgender and gender nonbinary job seekers. National Career Development Association. Retrieved from

35 National Association of Colleges and Employers (n.d.). NACE career readiness competencies. Retrieved from

36 Motulsky, S. and Frank, E. (2018, April 2).

37 Beck, B.L. (2015, August 1).

38 Eccles, L. (2017, March 30). Mx or Mre? HSBC's 10 'gender neutral' titles for its customers: Chosen option will then be used when phoned by staff and on all documents. Daily Mail. Retrieved from

39 Budge, S. L., et al., 2010.

40 Beemyn, G. Personal communication, September, 24, 2019.

41 Kirk, J. and Belovics, R. (2008).

42 Motulsky, S. and Frank, E. (2018, April 2).

43 Kirk, J. and Belovics, R. (2008).

44 Bartlett, K. T. (1994). Only girls wear barrettes: Dress and appearance standards, community norms, and workplace equality. Michigan Law Review, 92, 2541-2582, 2544. Retrieved from

45 Golden, R. (2019, January 29). NY bans discrimination based on gender identity, expression. HR Drive. Retrieved from


Interviews: Methodology

The primary research instruments used for the author’s thesis, on which this article is based, were semi-structured interviews modeled after the author's thesis research questions. Non-probability sampling was employed in the selection of interviewees. In total, four interviews were conducted throughout the research process for this thesis; two student interviews (one graduate student and one undergraduate student), one career services practitioner interview, and one interview with a leading scholar on trans issues in higher education. Each interviewee was asked a set of standard questions, while probing questions were also asked to clarify or expand on comments made by the interviewees. All interviews were completed between September and November of 2019.

At the time of the interview, the graduate student interviewed was enrolled at a Carnegie classified Research 1 institution, identifies as trans nonbinary, and was assigned female sex at birth. Their course of study was not identified to ensure confidentiality. The graduate student participant uses they/them pronouns. They proactively volunteered to be interviewed as they currently identify within the gender identity populations targeted by this study and wished to contribute knowledge about how college and university career services practitioners can better serve trans student populations.

The undergraduate student interviewed identifies as nonbinary and was assigned female sex at birth. At the time of the interview, the student was majoring in a social science discipline at a Carnegie classified Research 1 institution. The undergraduate student interviewee was asked to participate in an interview based on the researcher’s knowledge of their current gender identity. The undergraduate interviewee volunteered to participate in the interview process after they were informed of the thesis topic as they too wished to provide college and university career services practitioners with information about how they can more effectively serve trans students.

The questions asked of students were 1) What issues or concerns impact your career decision-making? 2) From your experience, what issues or concerns impact trans, nonbinary, or gender nonconforming students’ career decision-making? 3) What competencies do you think are required on the part of college or university career services practitioners in order to effectively serve trans, nonbinary, or gender nonconforming students? 4) What would deter you from seeking help from a particular career services office? 5) What can career services practitioners do to better serve their trans, nonbinary, or gender nonconforming students?

All information in this article attributed to the students was derived through their interviews.

Sandra Buatti-Ramos(she/her) is a Certified Life Mapping Coach (CLMC), Academy Certified Resume Writer (ACRW), certified MBTI® and Strong Interest Inventory® practitioner, and internship and career adviser. She provides holistic guidance and support to students and designated clients throughout their career development endeavors. Buatti-Ramos is a NACE Blog contributor; has served on the NACE Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee; and is a member of the NACE LGBTQ+ Affinity Group. She holds a master’s degree in higher education administration from Stony Brook University, a master’s degree in communication from the University at Albany, a bachelor’s degree in communication studies from SUNY Oneonta, and an associate degree in media communications from Fulton-Montgomery Community College.