Paper Type

Master's Thesis


Brooks College of Health

Degree Name

Master of Science in Mental Health Counseling (MHC)


Public Health

NACO controlled Corporate Body

University of North Florida. Department of Public Health

First Advisor

Dr. Lena Salpietro

Second Advisor

Dr. Kassie Terrell

Department Chair

Elissa Barr

College Dean

Curt Lox


Transgender and Gender Diverse (TGD) individuals are underserved in communities despite experiencing disproportionately higher rates of mental health distress. The cisheteronomativity of society creates chronic stressors that impact the mental health outcomes of TGD individuals. TGD individuals face the highest rates of discrimination in healthcare settings. Yet, little is known about the population's specific experiences seeking mental health care. Using a phenomenological approach, this study interviewed eight TGD individuals to understand the experience of seeking mental health care. There were six themes: facilitation of seeking behaviors, barriers, type of care, characteristics of providers, identity disclosure, and burden of advocacy and education. Participants reported they look for providers who at the minimum are competent, respectful, and safe. Participants want providers willing to educate themselves on TGD identities and issues. In congruence with previous research, this study found that TGD individuals are experiencing significant discrimination while seeking mental health care. The current findings illuminate that there is a substantial gap in the education provided to counselors in training and training for those working in the field.