To read this content please select one of the options below:

Transgender information behaviour

Aira Maria Pohjanen (University of Oulu, Oulu, Finland)
Terttu Anna Maarit Kortelainen (University of Oulu, Oulu, Finland)

Journal of Documentation

ISSN: 0022-0418

Article publication date: 11 January 2016




The purpose of this paper is to explore information behaviour and the information barriers transgendered people encounter. This study produces new information about the information needs in the construction of the transgendered identity, the changing of the information needs during this phase, utilized information sources, information sharing and barriers encountered in the information behaviour displayed by transgendered people.


Semi-structured interviews were used to explore the information behaviour of 12 transgendered participants. This study represents a phenomenological-hermeneutic approach. A qualitative content analysis was used in analysing the data with categories derived from previous research and research questions.


Serendipity played an important role at the beginning of the participants’ information seeking phase: the young individual would not have terms corresponding to his or her experience because of the invisibility of the transgender phenomenon in the culture. The barriers to seeking information were psychological, demographic, role-related or interpersonal, environmental or source characteristic. Fear was apparent as a barrier in the surrounding culture often caused by expectations, attitudes in the family environment and people around. Source characteristic barriers were related to the lack of terms and vocabulary required to seek information and also the lack of the information itself. Information about transgender and gender minorities was essential in building up a clear gender identity, and the most relevant information sources of this sort of information this were other transgendered people and the experience-based information they had shared.


The information behaviour of transgendered people has not been previously studied. In this study a model of information behaviour and information barriers was made. The model includes individual’s information practices, sources of information and also the barriers affecting information behaviour.



Pohjanen, A.M. and Kortelainen, T.A.M. (2016), "Transgender information behaviour", Journal of Documentation, Vol. 72 No. 1, pp. 172-190.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2016, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Related articles