Approach and Avoidant Coping Among Black Transgender Women Who Have Experienced Violence: A Qualitative Analysis

Athena D.F. Sherman, Monique Balthazar, Meredith Klepper, Sarah Febres-Cordero, Akshara Valmeekanathan, Diane Prakash, Andrea N. Cimino, Whitney Wharton, Kisha Allure, Ursula Kelly

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Black transgender women face nearly universal exposure to violence. Coping behaviors among cisgender women who have survived violence are well delineated; however, there are relatively few studies examining coping strategies for transgender women. The purpose of this qualitative study was to identify and characterize coping behaviors employed by Black transgender women (from Baltimore, MD and Washington, DC metropolitan areas) following an experience of violence. Secondary qualitative data analysis was conducted using framework analysis to explore narratives of 19 Black transgender women. Themes regarding avoidant and approach coping behaviors were developed within the context of existing literature. Approach coping behavior themes included: Help-Seeking, Seeking Guidance and Support, Self-Protecting Behavior, Positive Reappraisal, Self-Affirmation, Self-Care, Connection to a Higher Power, and Acceptance. Avoidant coping behavior themes included: Cognitive Avoidance, Substance, Alcohol, and Tobacco Use, Emotional Discharge, and Seeking Alternative Rewards. Participants employed similar coping behaviors as seen among cisgender women survivors of violence. However, several unique applications of approach coping mechanisms were identified including self-protecting behavior and self-affirming behavior. Culturally informed application of the identified coping behaviors can be taught and integrated into trauma-informed mental health interventions to promote strength and resilience among Black transgender women.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)45-61
Number of pages17
JournalPsychological Services
StatePublished - Aug 30 2021


  • Coping
  • Minority stress
  • Resilience
  • Transgender
  • Trauma

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Applied Psychology


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