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

This semester, I have been working on a research project titled “Transgender/Gender Non-Conforming Students & Retention: A Family Intervention Model” with Erin Furey, the Associate Director of Pace University’s LGBTQA & Social Justice Center and Emmett Griffith, a graduate assistant at the LGBTQA & Social Justice Center. This project is about retention for transgender and gender non-conforming students, specifically how that population’s retention is affected by factors such as stress-management, and close friendships and familial relationships. 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. It also makes conducting research on this topic difficult. We are instead forced to search for research with similar themes that we can connect back to our hypothesis surrounding the retention of transgender students, such as queer students, general retention, queer stressors and even anti-queer violence, rather than direct research on the subject of transgender retention itself.

So far this semester, we haven primarily edited and added to the annotated bibliography that I had started over the summer. A new addition to the annotated bibliography being, “Supporting Transgender College Students: Implications for Clinical Intervention and Campus Prevention” (Swanbrow Becker, Nemeth Roberts, Ritts, Branagan, Warner, Clark 2017) which analyzes the experiences of transgender college students in coping with stress from school and life, and compares them to their cisgender peers. It points out, “Transgender college students have the additional burdens of often coping with a cold, unaccepting environment in tandem with acts of verbal and physical assault as they develop their adult identities.” which contributes to our theory that implies that transgender college students face stressors that are unique to them due to their identity, which makes retention research for their population necessarily different to that of their cisgender peers. Another interesting article that was added is “Using Social Support Levels To Predict Sexual Identity Development Among College Students Who Identify As A Sexual Minority” (Brandon-Friedman, Kim 2016) which is a study that analyzes the impact of domains of social support on aspects of queer identity development of college students. They found primarily that support from either a queer-specific group on campus, or support from family members made the most difference, which backs up another part of our theory, that familial support is closely tied to the ease of success of queer-identified college students. Specifically, this study noted, “Given that family members represent the core components of most individuals’ microsystems, it makes sense that higher levels of sexuality supports from family members result in both lower levels of concern about others accepting the individuals’ sexual minority identities and reduced homonegativity.”

Our planned next steps include setting up focus groups on campus to receive direct feedback that will shape the final questions on the survey we intend to circulate on both the NYC and PLV Pace campuses, as well as finishing and distributing the survey itself. Additionally, we are in the process of seeking approval from the institutional review board (IRB) to share the impending survey with other schools as well. For the rest of the semester, Emmett and I will also continue to work on a literature review guided by the annotated bibliography we have been working on.

Glossary:

    • Cisgender: Those whose psychological self/gender identity does not differ from the social expectations for the physical sex with which they were born.
    • 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”
    • Homonegativity: a negative attitude towards homosexuality or homosexual people, to be used instead of the term homophobia, as the term “homophobia” has a strongly negative political meaning and is perceived by some as pejorative, loaded, and at times inaccurate.
    • LGBTQA: acronym standing for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, and Asexual, used to represent that community.
    • Queer: umbrella term commonly used to represent the LGBTQA+ 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:

  • Brandon-Friedman, R.; Kim, H. “Using social support levels to predict sexual identity development among college students who identify as a sexual minority” Journal of Gay & Lesbian Social Services, 2016
  • Swanbrow Becker, M.; Nemeth Roberts, S.; Ritts, S.; Branagan, W.; Warner, A.; Clark, S. “Supporting Transgender College Students: Implications for Clinical Intervention and Campus Prevention” Journal of College Student Psychotherapy, 2017.

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.