Graduation Date


Document Type

Capstone Project

Project Type

Qualitative Study

Degree Name

Master of Science in Occupational Therapy


Occupational Therapy

Program Chair

Julia Wilbarger, OTR/L, PhD

Faculty Advisor

Karen McCarthy, PhD, OT/L


Understanding the link between occupations, gender identity, and the environment is fundamental to the comprehension of the occupational participation of non-binary individuals. Occupations are used to express an individual’s personal and social identity and serve as a modality for identity “growth and reconstruction” (Laliberte-Rudman, 2002). Beagan et al. (2012) reveal that transgender individuals use occupations to shape and project their identity; the inability to engage in occupations that align with an individual’s identity (particularly gender identity) resulted in distress, a sense of emptiness, and occupational deprivation. Current research addresses the transgender population but fails to distinguish between the binary and non-binary experience. This study focuses on non-binary individuals and acknowledges them as unique individuals while simultaneously addressing the gap in the literature of occupational science.

A case study design was selected with a two-step semi-structured interview process where the initial interview focused on environments that supported or hindered occupations, while the second interview was guided by photo-elicitation (Clark-Ibanez, 2004). Data from four participants over eight interviews resulted in three themes: gated world, navigating binary spaces, and undoing gender.

IRB Number