Stress and the coping of Israeli trans students in higher education: a qualitative study

Maya Tsfati, Yochay Nadan*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Aims: Trans students are underrepresented in institutions of higher education, and little is known about their experiences and the stressors they face in this context. This study aims to understand Israeli trans students’ experiences in such institutions, with a focus on the unique stressors they face and the elements that reduce these stressors’ impact on their mental health. Methods: Qualitative interviews were conducted with 20 Israeli trans students who attended various institutions of higher education in Israel. Data were collected through semi-structured, in-depth interviews and was thematically analyzed. Results: Two themes were identified. The first focused on the participants’ stressors, including financial difficulties, administrative difficulties, and feelings of loneliness. The second theme focused on the elements that serve to temper the stressors they faced, including social support, hope for future social mobility, and academic skills that served to enhance their ability to cope with the stressors. The participants associated these elements with a sense of competency, higher levels of self-esteem, and a sense of belonging, thus, contributing to their psychological wellbeing. Discussion: Our findings reveal that the stressors faced by trans students in academia are tempered by inter and intra personal aspects. This provides us with a deeper understanding of the salutogenic character of coping with stress and its relationship to resilience and agency. Our findings call for trans-affirming actions to create a gender-affirming environment in academia.

Original languageAmerican English
JournalInternational Journal of Transgender Health
StateAccepted/In press - 2023

Bibliographical note

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  • Coping
  • higher education
  • mental health
  • mitigating elements
  • resilience
  • stress
  • trans students


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