Exploring gender diverse young adults’ gender identity development in online LGBTQIA+ communities

Kieran Cronesberry, Luke Ward

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticlepeer-review


Online spaces are widely used by gender diverse communities and may reduce the risk of negative psychological outcomes faced by these communities. However, little is known about the role online environments play in the development of gender identity, which may explain the growing number of gender diverse youth ‘coming out’ earlier than seen previously. In this article, gender diverse refers to anyone whose internal sense of gender is incongruent with their assigned sex at birth such as: transgender, non-binary, and agender persons.

This article examines the role of online lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer/questioning, intersex, and asexual (LGBTQIA+) communities on gender identity development and examines how the structure of these spaces may positively facilitate this development.

A sample of 9 gender diverse young adults 19-25 years old participated in online semi-structured interviews which were analysed using reflexive thematic analysis.

Two main themes were developed: safe spaces in virtual places and the value of online spaces as educational resources.

The findings indicate that online LGBTQIA+ communities facilitate gender identity development for gender diverse young adults through providing a vital resource of gender diverse specific education and exposure to less visible gender identities. Implications for future research, recommendations for practice with gender diverse youth, and limitations are discussed.
Original languageEnglish
Article number1
Pages (from-to)1-13
Number of pages13
JournalInternational Journal of Transgender Health
Publication statusPublished - 24 Apr 2024

Data Access Statement

Due to ethical issues, data underpinning this publication cannot be made openly available. Further information about the data and conditions for access are available from https://doi.org/10.24339/79cfffd8-365e-42ff-89e9-9702624969c8


  • lgbtq
  • online
  • gender identity
  • transgender
  • young adults


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