A place to stand : creating inclusive environments for diverse gender tertiary students

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Powell, Catherine
Author ORCID Profiles (clickable)
Master of Education
Unitec Institute of Technology
Gremillion, Helen
Masters Thesis
Ngā Upoko Tukutuku (Māori subject headings)
New Zealand
tertiary education
diverse gender students
tertiary students
queer students
campus climate
ALLY Network at Unitec
gender identity
minority stress
ANZSRC Field of Research Code (2020)
Powell, C. (2016). A place to stand : creating inclusive environments for diverse gender tertiary students. An unpublished thesis submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master in Education, Unitec Institute of Technology, New Zealand.
This study investigated the experiences of students with diverse gender identities within the New Zealand tertiary environment. The aim was to hear directly from participants about whether they had experienced discrimination in relation to their gender identities; what kinds of discrimination, if any, were occurring; and whether participants believed specific strategies might support an inclusive tertiary environment for diverse gender students. The study draws on semi-structured interview data gathered from seven diverse gender students currently studying at a tertiary level around New Zealand. Participants had a range of gender identities, ethnicities and institutional experiences; however, this study did not include anyone from the intersex community. The interview transcripts were thematically analysed and the initial themes were shared with participants to seek feedback about perceived fit with their own experiences. As the researcher is a ciswoman (a woman assigned female at birth), a consultation group was formed to provide support and feedback from diverse gender perspectives to the researcher. Findings indicate that although the participants did not generally identify as having experienced discrimination through direct attacks or violence, the negative effects of gender-normativity, administration processes that were not suitable, and a lack of staff awareness about the needs of diverse gender students were clear evidence of discrimination during the participants’ tertiary experiences. Findings also highlight the resilience of gender diverse students and their ability to develop personal strategies to manage their experiences of being part of a marginalised group. Strategies that participants identified as creating authentic inclusive tertiary environments related to visibility of diverse gender identities within policies, processes and curricula as well as educational programmes for staff on the unique needs of the diverse gender population.
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