Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Granting Department

Women's Studies

Major Professor

Sara Crawley, Ph.D.


Lesbian, Identity, Heteronormativity/, Gender normativity, Narratives, Feminist, Life span development


Women who have transitioned to a lesbian identity from a previously heterosexual one lack a voice in the academic literature. Identity formation in this subset of women, those who chose a heterosexual marriage, had children, and later in life self identify as lesbian, has not been fully investigated. For this project, eight women were asked to answer this question: How have you negotiated the path from heterosexuality to lesbianism? Four main themes were found dealing with heteronormativity and accountability, relationship with children, transition, and acceptance by the lesbian community. Additionally, I introduce a new term---gender-normativity---to describe these women who only after marrying, having children and raising those children, and going through a process of self-reflection, realized they wanted to make a transition and spend the rest of their lives in an intimate relationship with a woman.