My doctoral research is supervised by Dr Peter Hegarty in the School of Psychology at the University of Surrey. This research focuses on cisgenderism—ideology that de-legitimises people's own designations of their genders (Ansara, 2012). I use the term ideology here to describe meanings constructed by and reflected in everyday language, gestures, images, and other symbolic forms. Cisgenderism can involve forms of pathologising, misgendering, essentialising, binarising, erasure, and structural and physical violence. Many people experience cisgenderist discrimination and social exclusion. For example, people whose genders are delegitimised by others have been assaulted when trying to use public toilets, expelled from schools, and forced to wear the clothing and play with the toys that psychologists felt comformed to their birth-assigned 'sex'. This has caused significant harm and violated people's human rights. In some societies, people self-designate themselves and/or are labelled by others as kathoey, kinnar, trans, Two-Spirit, or Bissu. In many societies, designated authorities often disregard people's views of their own genders. For example, a woman whom others have labelled 'male' can be unable to get documentation listing her as a woman or she can be socially excluded from women-only gatherings. Some medical and psychological professionals also disregard people's own genders through discriminatory gatekeeping policies that delay or deny people's access to gender-affirming hormones, surgeries, and other procedures. Often, identical or similar medical procedures are routinely available without these barriers to people whose genders are socially legitimised.
Last updated: 08/08/12
My resaerch incorporates bricolage meta-methodological techniques such as 'moving to the margins', 'rigour in the absence', tracing the hidden and diffuse social relations of power, seeking complexity and multilinearity using the POET technique, and incorporating diverse quantitative, qualitative, and mixed research methods. My research portfolio includes various ways of conducting research, including experiments, surveys, quantitative content analysis, qualitative thematic analysis, and qualitative critical discourse analysis.
My first study was a quantitative content analysis of pathologising and misgendering forms of cisgenderism in psychological literature on children. This published paper was the first empirical study on cisgenderism in psychological literature. Based on this research, I was selected as the 2012 recipient of the American Psychological Association (APA) Division 44 Transgender Research Award for research that makes a significant contribution to the field.
Aims of my research include: increasing awareness of how cisgenderism can affect psychological and medical research and clinical practice; reducing cisgenderism in medical, psychological, legal and social arenas; contributing to evidence-based understanding of cisgenderism in everyday life; and developing effective interventions to reduce cisgenderism.
I believe that accurate and ethical research emerges from awareness of people’s actual experiences. I have extensive past experience as a grassroots activist, peer health promotion advocate, and community support group coordinator. My research is motivated both by having experienced cisgenderism in my own life and by having witnessed how cisgenderism can affect other people's lives. In addition to having worked as a salaried Editorial Assistant for peer reviewed journal Developmental Psychology, I also served as Founding Director for Lifelines Rhode Island/Cuerdas de Salvamento, a regional non-profit agency that provided advocacy, health referrals, education, support, and crisis services to people affected by cisgenderism.
Some of my previous professional roles have included bilingual English/Spanish Psychiatric Rehabilitation Caseworker, appointed Human Rights Officer for a supported housing team, and LGBTQI Youth Counsellor. I have also presented on equalities issues to health and human service organisations, law enforcement, and clergy from multiple religions. In addition, I have served on several legislative and health policy task forces. After growing up in Australia, China, and several other countries, I completed my BA degree in cross-cultural and international health in the United States. My BA degree included minor concentrations in African studies, medicine, public health, psychology, and medical anthropology. I also earned an MSc in social psychology at the UK university where I am completing my PhD in psychology. I am interested in multiple medical and psychological topics across diverse sub-fields, and my research is informed by a critical interdisciplinary approach. Click here to view my Publications.
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