Blog Post 1 “Transgender/Gender Non-Conforming Students & Retention: A Family Intervention Model” Fall 2017

My name is Gabe Nichols, and I am a sophomore student majoring in Communication Studies and Women and Gender Studies at Pace University. This summer, I worked on a research project titled “Transgender/Gender Non-Conforming Students & Retention: A Family Intervention Model” which is about retention for transgender and gender non-conforming students with Erin Furey, LMSW, the Associate Director of Pace University’s LGBTQA & Social Justice Center. We have been fortunate enough to be selected to continue our research this academic year, and have brought on Emmett Griffith, a graduate assistant at the LGBTQA & Social Justice Center, to help us with our research. We are doing this project because currently there is a lack of support and research on transgender students in college, especially in terms of retention. This lack of research and support leaves transgender and gender non-conforming students with no strategies to help them remain in and succeed in school. Additionally, we hope our project shines a light on the issues faced by the transgender community regarding their lack of rights,  how they are treated, and the issues that affect their likelihood of retention. In addition to minimal research on transgender issues, there has been an increasing need to study this population due to our current political and social climate. Since we started our research, the explicit rights of transgender Americans have changed. The current administration has rolled back Title IX protections and issued a ban preventing transgender folks from joining and being protected within the military. These actions have increased the need for research surrounding transgender people, particularly transgender students who are no longer receiving these protections.

Our goals for the summer were to find initial research on transgender/gender non-conforming students and retention, and explore, apply, and critique the LGBTQA+ literature on retention that we find as it applies to transgender/gender non-conforming students. Since then, I have completed an annotated bibliography on several articles and studies. I had to broaden my search to include other related topics beyond transgender student retention that were perhaps more more general, such as queer students, general retention, queer stressors and even anti-queer violence. Some subjects come a bit closer to what we want to study, such as a study I read titled “Factors Affecting the College Choice of African American Gay Male Undergraduates: Implications for Retention” which studied the retention of gay African American men. This study found that their participants “identified two factors that seemed critical to their success in college: supportive relationships with peers and family.” (Blakewood, 2008). This contributes to our research by confirming the importance of supportive family relationships in queer individuals’ lives, which we have theorized will lead to a higher rate of retention. The fact that it was a study done about the retention of queer students, even though none of them were transgender or gender non-conforming, made it an interesting and relevant study to read. With our previous experience in mind, this semester Erin is focusing on developing questions for the focus groups we hope to conduct next semester, while Emmett and I are working on cleaning up and further developing the annotated bibliography and literature review. We also plan to eventually–hopefully next semester–conduct surveys within the Pace community on both campuses. Additionally, we are seeking approval from the institutional review board (IRB) to share that survey with other schools as well.

 

Glossary:

  • Gender Non-Conforming: Someone who does not conform to the ideologies of any one gender. Often considered to be outside the gender binary, or “nonbinary”
  • LGBTQA: acronym standing for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, and Asexual, used to represent that community.
  • Retention: In this research, this word is used to refer to the amount of students who stay in school and graduate.
  • Transgender: Those whose psychological self/gender identity differs from the social expectations for the physical sex with which they were born. Acts as an umbrella term for both those who fit within and outside of the binary.

Works Cited:

Blakewood, A., DeVita, J., Strayhorn, T. “Factors Affecting the College Choice of African American Gay Male Undergraduates: Implications for Retention” NASAP Journal, 2008.

Blog Post 2 “Transgender/Gender Non-Conforming Students & Retention: A Family Intervention Model”

As stated in my last blog post, I am a Student Assistant at Pace’s LGBTQA & Social Justice Center and this summer, I have been working on a research project titled “Transgender/Gender Non-Conforming Students & Retention: A Family Intervention Model” which is about retention for transgender and gender non-conforming students, with Erin Furey, LMSW who is the Associate Director at the center. We are doing this research because currently, we as a society are lacking in support and research on transgender students in college, particularly in terms of retention. This lack of research leaves transgender and gender non-conforming students with no strategies to help them continue and succeed in school. Additionally, we hope that this research shines a light on the issues faced by the transgender community regarding their rights–or lack thereof–and how they are treated, and their unique stressors that lead them to possibly struggle more with staying in school than their cisgender counterparts.

At the time of the first post, I had begun my first round of research on transgender and gender non-conforming students and topics related to them. I has also read a number of articles and studies and done annotations on each of the articles. Since then, I have done a few more rounds of research and completed a full annotated bibliography. I have learned a few things through my research so far, including that transgender students are more at risk to abuse alcohol than their cisgender peers (Duke University School of Medicine, 2017). Mostly, however, concepts I thought I already knew were confirmed and validated with concrete information, such as that the retention of transgender students has a significant financial impact on insitutions (Mancini, 2011) and that services provided by university career centers often lack the knowledge and programming to successfully cater to transgender and gender non-conforming individuals’ specific needs and the challenges they face in career services (Barfield, H., Belke, L., and Scott, D., 2011).

It is incredibly difficult–in fact it is next to impossible–to find research directly regarding transgender students and retention. Because of this, much of the research I have read is instead about more general topic such as queer students, general retention, and queer stressors and even anti-queer violence. Some subjects come a bit closer, such as a study I read titled “Factors Affecting the College Choice of African American Gay Male Undergraduates: Implications for Retention” which studied the retention of gay African American men. This study found that their participants “identified two factors that seemed critical to their success in college: supportive relationships with peers and family.” This furthers our research by confirming the importance of supportive family relationships in queer individuals’ lives. The fact that it was a study done about the retention of queer students, even though none of them were transgender or gender non-conforming, made it an interesting and relevant study to read.

In regards to next steps, we are in the process of planning a focus group regarding our topic, and seeking approval from the institutional review board (IRB) to publish and circulate a survey for transgender and gender non-conforming students so we can gather our own information straight from the source of transgender and gender non-conforming students. Looking into the near future, we intend to create a dual intervention program for transgender and gender non-conforming students and their parents with the goal being that we ease tensions at home by answering parents questions that may upset the students in the hopes by educating the family, they will be better able to support their student which will lead to a rise in retention. We plan to submit this information in workshop format for educational and LGBTQA conferences and present our research, in the hopes to publish a full-length paper about strategies to increase university retention of transgender students.

 

Sources Cited:

Barfield, H., Belke, L., Scott, D. “Career Development With Transgender College Students: Implications for Career and Employment Counselors” Journal of Employment Counseling, American Counseling Association, 2011

Blakewood, A., DeVita, J., Strayhorn, T. “Factors Affecting the College Choice of African American Gay Male Undergraduates: Implications for Retention” NASAP Journal, 2008.

Mancini, Olivia “Attrition Risk and Resilience Among Sexual Minority College Students” Columbia Social Work Review, Volume II, 2011.

“Transgender College Freshmen Drink More, Experience More Blackouts” Duke University School of Medicine, 2017.

Blog Post 1 “Transgender/Gender Non-Conforming Students & Retention: A Family Intervention Model”

This summer, I am working on a research project titled “Transgender/Gender Non-Conforming Students & Retention: A Family Intervention Model” which is about retention for transgender and gender non-conforming students with Erin Furey. Erin is the Associate Director of Pace University’s LGBTQA & Social Justice Center, and I Gabe Nichols, am a rising sophomore majoring in Communications. We are doing this research because currently, we as a society are lacking in support and research on transgender students in college, particularly in terms of retention. This lack of research leaves transgender and gender non-conforming students with no strategies to help them continue and succeed in school. Additionally, we hope that this research shines a light on the issues faced by the transgender community regarding their rights–or lack thereof–and how they are treated, and their unique stressors that lead them to possibly struggle more with staying in school than their cisgender counterparts. Since we hope to be able to continue to carry out this project into the fall and spring semesters, our goals for the summer are primarily research based. Examples of our goals are to research articles regarding transgender and gender non-conforming students and retention, to explore, apply and critique LGBTQA+ literature on retention as it applies to transgender and gender non-conforming students, and to develop a hypothesis around the needs of transgender and gender non-conforming students that is linked to retention.

So far we have begun researching the topic, but our exact topic has little to no previous research conducted about it, so instead we are exploring similar topics, such as retention throughout the whole LGBTQA+ community, or the mental health of transgender adults and adolescents. After reading these articles, I have created an annotated bibliography with important information about each of the articles. While reading these articles, we have noted which articles specifically pull the ‘T’ out of the LGBTQA acronym and acknowledge the difference in effect between being a cisgender queer person, and being a transgender person. An article we have read that did this well is “The Path Forward: LGBT Retention and Academic Success” by Shane Windmeyer. In the article he points out that, “LGBT youth, specifically LGB youth of color and transgender youth of all races, are much more likely than other students to struggle academically and personally in college.”

For some next steps throughout the summer, we intend to plan a focus group regarding our topic, and seek approval from the institutional review board (IRB) to publish and circulate a survey for transgender and gender non-conforming students. Looking further into the future, we intend to create a dual intervention program for transgender and gender non-conforming students and their parents with the goal being that we ease tensions at home by answering parents questions that may upset the students, We plan to submit this information in workshop format for educational and LGBTQA conferences and present our research, in the hopes to publish a paper about strategies to increase university retention of transgender students.

So far I have loved working on this research project. It is a topic near to my heart, as a transgender man whose parents don’t always approve or understand. Getting to find the information around the topic as well as eventually work on the intervention program first hand is incredible. I am learning so much and I hope to continue to do that. I also hope to find an intervention model with Erin that works, so I can help others in similar or even worse situations than mine.

 

Glossary:

  • Cisgender: Refers to people whose sex and gender are congruent by predominant cultural standards: women who have female bodies, men who have male bodies.  This term was created to challenge the privileging of such people relative to those who are transgender.
  • Gender Non-Conforming: Someone who does not conform to the ideologies of any one gender. Often considered to be outside the gender binary, or “nonbinary”
  • LGBTQA: acronym standing for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, and Asexual, used to represent that community.
  • Retention: In this research, this word is used to refer to the amount of students who stay in school and graduate.
  • Transgender: Those whose psychological self/gender identity differs from the social expectations for the physical sex with which they were born. Acts as an umbrella term for both those who fit within and outside of the binary.

 

Sources cited:

  • Windmeyer, Shane “The Path Forward: LGBT Retention and Academic Success” INSIGHT into Diversity, 2016
  • Pace University’s LGBTQA & Social Justice Center “All Gender Housing: Terms to Know” http://www.pace.edu/lgbtqa-center/all-gender-housing-overview-instructions