The Joy and the Pain

21 Apr 2021

Dr Vanessa Lacey (Transgender Equality Network Ireland) shared insights from her research on the experiences of adult trans women, and the families of adult trans women, concerning grief and loss.

The findings highlighted the complex nature of loss and the different forms which it can take. The emergent dominant theme for both cohorts was the experience of an ambiguous loss. Trans women retrospectively experienced ambiguous loss from childhood, with the confusing and conflicting loss of the 'authentic gendered-self'. The women also experienced a range of life-long losses regarding the ambiguous loss of loved ones in the context of gender transition. Family members experienced a sense of loss on becoming aware that their loved one planned to gender transition, and there was evidence that the loss was confusing, conflicting, and in many respects unresolved. There was evidence that both sets of participants also experienced ambiguous gain and traumatic growth and they developed the resilience to help them live with the boundary ambiguity.

The event was co-hosted by the ISS21 Genders, Sexualities and Families (GSF) Research Cluster and  UCC LGBT+ Staff Network. Dr Fiachra Ó Suilleabháin, co-convenor of the GSF Cluster, chaired the seminar. 

For more on this story contact:

Dr Fiachra Ó Suilleabháin (

Institute for Social Science in the 21st Century (ISS21)

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