Background : The process of “transition” is not identical for all trans masculine people. A focus on the body and behavior retain importance to varying degrees, as does a person’s level of satisfaction with changes across these gendered areas. However, trans people & health professionals that serve them lack a scale to capture this variation. We are an interdisciplinary team of researchers and clinicians creating a scale to take into account the various ways gender is both experienced and embodied.
Methods : We created a scale that independently measures aspects of physical gender-presentation and behavior. There are 19 items focused on characteristics of the body and 24 items focused on aspects of gendered behaviors. Each item assesses both subjective levels of importance and satisfaction. A focus group of trans masculine people provided input on each item and language used in the scale. Afterwards, preliminary quantitative data were collected from an online sample examining correlations between this scale and measures of conceptually related constructs.
Results : For the online study, there was a total of 69 participants who were female-assigned at birth and indicated a range of trans masculine identities, such as trans man, genderqueer, and non-binary. Descriptive information from the online study will be provided for each item of the scale. The Embodiment of Gender Scale demonstrated expected patterns of associations with other measures in the online study, demonstrating some preliminary support for the validity of this measure. Higher levels of satisfaction with important aspects of the body and behavior, respectively, were significantly associated with: higher levels of comfort with participants’ gender (r = .48, .46, p < .05), less preoccupation with gender (r = -.34, -.45, p < .05), greater identity acceptance (r = .34, .31, p < .05), less rumination about gender (r = -.38, -.36, p < .05), and less internalized stigma (r = -.27, -.32, p < .05). Further, higher levels of satisfaction in both of these domains (the body and behavior, respectively) were significantly associated with greater levels of life satisfaction (r = .32, .34, p < .05) and lower levels of depression symptoms (r = -.24, -.28, p < .05).
Conclusions : These findings indicate that both aspects of the body and behavior are important for gender affirmation of trans masculine individuals and that satisfaction in these domains may be associated with better mental health. Given the medicalization of trans experience, often there is a great emphasis on the body. While physically affirming one’s gender is important for many trans people, behavioral affirmation of gender is important as well and should be taken into account. These findings present important steps in the validation of the Embodiment of Gender Scale. Once validated, our scale will provide both trans people and service providers a way to assess which physical and behavioral characteristics are most important for each individual regarding their gender. It will also be useful for data collection in research enhancing our understanding of the dynamic nature of transition. This scale will also enable more appropriate patient-led care provision.