This study aims to increase the understanding of the early-stage identity-related information needs of transgender people.
This study draws on social constructivism, queer theory and information practice research. In accordance with the queer phenomenological approach which emphasises lived experiences, data was collected by interviewing 25 individuals who identified as transgender. The data was analysed with a focus on how early-stage information needs are formed into conscious information needs.
The formation of early-stage information needs were conceptualised as a chain including a trigger for information seeking, finding the right words and understanding the experience. Especially the bodily changes starting at puberty were strong causes of discomfort causing friction between the subjects' own gendered body and their gender experience, even leading to gender dysphoria. Finding words to describe the experience played an important role in the process of identity formation. In many cases this was difficult because of the lack of accurate and relevant information.
Providing information especially of varying transgender experiences is vital for individuals trying to understand and verbalise their gender identity.
This study provides an understanding of the early-stage information needs described by transgender people and the process of building identities through disorientation. This study suggests that early-stage information needs are a valid concept to help understand how embodied experiences and the friction between the lived experience and the social world can lead to information seeking.
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.