Date of Award

January 2022

Document Type

Open Access Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Public Health (MPH)


School of Public Health

First Advisor

Trace Kershaw

Second Advisor

Alice Miller


Cisgenderism is the culture and system, constituted by both ideology and practice, that denies, denigrates, or pathologizes self-identified gender identities that do not align with assigned sex at birth. Medicine and law are jointly deterministic of the wellbeing of transgender people. This analysis seeks to explore how stigma, operationalized by cisgenderism, manifests in legal and medical structures to negatively impact the wellbeing of transgender people. Thus, this analysis begins with the definition of key terms necessary to understanding concepts related to sex, gender, and gender variance. After delineating how stigma operates, the recent history of transness is outlined and is proceeded by a discussion on deviance and institutional repression. After examining the evolution of pathologizing codes for gender variance in the ICD and DSM, the essay concludes with a discussion of depathologization activism and liberatory legal models for trans self-determination.


This is an Open Access Thesis.

Open Access

This Article is Open Access