Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)

School Name

Annsley Frazier Thornton School of Education



Major Advisor

Dr. Kathleen Cooter

Second Advisor

Dr. Elizabeth Dinkins

Third Advisor

Dr. Mollie Blackburn


School counselors have an opportunity to develop as an advocate for their transgender students who face many adversities in life. However, there exists a paucity of research specific to school counselor advocacy and no literature specific to school counselors developing as advocates for transgender students. In an attempt to address the gaps in the literature, the purpose of this qualitative research was to explore how three school counselors in a large urban school district in the southeast United States participating in an inquiry group developed as transgender advocates while completing a passion project. The conceptual framework components of the study were: Queer theory, trans critique, and the American Counseling Association’s (ACA) Advocacy Competencies. The study was informed by research questions focused on how school counselors develop as advocates for transgender students, affordances of transgender advocacy development, and limitations faced. Multiple forms of data were collected, including transcriptions of inquiry group meetings, journals, surveys, document review, and analytic memos. The three thematic findings developed through data analysis were (1) transgender advocacy development, (2) affordances of transgender advocacy development, and (3) limitations of transgender advocacy development. Implications for school counselors, school counselor organizations, and future research are presented. The paper concludes with a discussion of the study’s limitations.