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Feb. 13, 2018

PhD Candidate, Community Psychology

Individuals within lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and Two Spirit (LGBTQ2S) communities are likely to experience forms of discrimination or violence rooted in social norms that uphold ideals of heterosexuality and cisnormativity (the ideas that all people are heterosexual and identify with their natal gender). I study the ways in which these harmful social norms impact LGBTQ2S peoples' experiences of health, wellbeing, and service access. My incredibly supportive faculty supervisor is Dr. Ciann Wilson.

My recent paper, "'It's a gap in awareness': service providers inclusion of LGBTQ2S survivors of intimate partner violence in Ontario Canada," is based on my undergraduate research where I explored the current practices and policies implemented across domestic violence shelters in Ontario, and how these services can be transformed to adequately include LGBTQ2S survivors. Intimate partner violence is a prevalent issue in all relationship configurations, including LGBTQ2S relationships. While most of the literature uncovered survivors' experiences, there was little information on the issues, needs, and challenges associated with accessing services.

I interviewed service providers who work at domestic violence services to gain insights into the state of their existing services, and further envisioning what adequate service provision should look like. From these interviews, it was evident that services operated from an out-dated framework that fails to account for the needs of queer and transgender women, and non-binary people that do not conform to western societal definitions of being a "woman". There is a need to reconfigure organizations' underlying principles, understandings, and values that underpin the provision of safe and inclusive services. Findings also suggest that there needs to be more training for front-line staff to better support LGBTQ2S survivors. In addition, there needs to be ways to implement training and evaluation of service providers' cultural competency.

Based on my research findings, I collaborated with Springtide Resources in 2015 to develop and deliver LGBTQ2S inclusivity trainings to several domestic violence service providers. Springtide Resources is a non-profit organization dedicated to ending gender-based violence in Toronto, Ontario. Through this experience, I learned that there is more work to be done in shifting the culture of domestic violence services to account for gender and sexual diversity.

Currently there is no one in Ontario doing the work of supporting shelters through the in-depth process of assessing current levels of accessibility and inclusivity of LGBTQ2S survivors. I aim to work with intimate partner violence shelters to implement policy and practical modifications that will create change that is transformational and long lasting.

My goal within this realm of research is to work with LGBTQ2S communities to challenge and change existing barriers that are founded upon heteronormativity and cisnormativity.

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