The purpose for this project is to collect data from American Sign Language Interpreters who identify as lesbian, specifically targeting their experiences “coming out” to consumers while at work. Research about coming out/self-disclosure at work is a relatively new field of study. Most of what has been studied was about coming out to family and friends and the stages of self-disclosure. There is also limited research about the lesbian appearance and the recent shift in the androgynous-appearing lesbian. Times have changed, and there are no longer just femme and butch lesbians. Elizabeth Donovan has been the only researcher to study LGBTQ+ American Sign Language Interpreters. This study, however, focuses solely on lesbians only. This study explores how lesbian interpreters’ experiences vary when coming out to consumers, but appearance seems to be a common theme in the data collected for this study. From the onset of the study, analysis was done to see if there was a link between gender expression and sexual identity. This was done by examining clothing and appearance and seeing if there was an impact on stress levels at work. Szymanski (2005) found that awareness of LGBTQ experiences of distress was important because of the negative impact it has on mental health. The results of this study suggest that further research related to interpreters coming out at work is warranted. This research can serve as a springboard for further research in the LGBTQ community.

Exit Requirement


Date of Award


Degree Name

Master of Arts in Interpreting Studies


Deaf Studies/Professional Studies

Committee Chair

Amanda Smith

Committee Member

Tie Burcham

Committee Member

Elizabeth Donovan


lesbian, interpreter, coming out, appearance, LGBTQ



Subject Categories

Education | Other Languages, Societies, and Cultures