University of Victoria announces world's first chair in transgender studies

VICTORIA -- The professor appointed to what's believed to be the world's only chair in transgender studies hopes the research will clear away the myths and improve the lives of some of the most vulnerable people in society.

See Full Article

University of Victoria Prof. Aaron Devor, an internationally recognized sex- and-gender expert, will work with researchers, community activists and students to advance study into a broad range of topics that affect the lives of transgender individuals.

"Transgender people are among the most disadvantaged in society today. There's a huge amount of stigma, poverty is rampant, health care is not what it should be," he said.

"In order to improve the circumstances of transgender people, we need to have solid research that will give us good data and good foundation for changing policies, for changing practices and for changing hearts and minds."

A donation of US$1 million from the Tawani Foundation, founded and led by U.S. transgender billionaire Jennifer Pritzker, will establish the chair for five years in the university's Faculty of Social Sciences.

Devor, who is also transgender, is a professor in the university's sociology department, an elected member of the elite International Academy of Sex Research and a fellow of the Society for the Scientific Study of Sexuality.

He said about one in 200 people are transgender -- a higher number than many would imagine.

"We're not talking about a minuscule part of the population," he said. "Social change is very uneven. We're seeing a lot of glamorous celebrity transgender people in the media these days, but that is not the reality for most transgender people's lives."

Among the issues he is set to explore are health care, poverty, discrimination and suicide.

Devor has been an author on the last two editions of the World Professional Association for Transgender Health's standards of care, which provide guidelines to health professionals on caring for transgender and gender non-conforming people.

He said surveys in Canada and the U.S. have shown that roughly 40 per cent of transgender people have attempted suicide. The rate of attempted suicide among Canadian transgender youth who have unsupportive parents is 57 per cent, while among those with supportive parents the rate is just four per cent.

"The difference between having a supportive family environment and not -- it makes a huge difference in actually saving lives of young transgender people."

He said he's working with a group that is examining how supportive families help transgender youth and hopes to put on a conference in the coming years to discuss the issue further.

The rate of poverty among transgender people is also considerably higher than the rest of the population. Ninety per cent report experiencing harassment and difficulty in the workplace and large numbers report housing challenges, said Devor.

"This is an area that needs a lot more attention and I hope to be developing some research projects in collaboration with others on this in the future."

Devor is also the founder of the Transgender Archives at the university, which were unveiled in 2012. The collection represents more than a century of research and if lined up along one shelf, it would stretch the length of a football field.

Pritzker, a retired lieutenant colonel from a wealthy U.S. family, said the University of Victoria has made itself a leader in the study of gender identity.

"My support is an investment in success. It is a major personal goal of mine that this chair in transgender studies stimulates the outstanding work of other institutions and creates a global network for the study of this topic," she said in a statement.

University president Jamie Cassels said the chair sets the university apart as a place that offers high-quality research and a home to exceptional students, faculty and staff who inspire bold action for positive impact on others' lives.

-- By Laura Kane in Vancouver



Advertisements

Latest Canada & World News

  • Norway: At least 3 injured in family-related stabbing attack

    World News CTV News
    COPENHAGEN, Denmark - A suspect was arrested in Norway after at least three people were stabbed with a sharp object, leaving one critically injured Friday, police said. Police at first said the attack in the village of Nore as random, but later clarified that there was “a family relationship” between the assailant and at least one of the victims. Source
  • Anti-abortion activist is charged with stalking a California doctor who provides abortions

    World News CTV News
    A Los Angeles man is facing multiple charges after prosecutors allege he was part of a group of anti-abortion activists who targeted a women's health clinic and stalked a doctor who provides abortion services, the San Francisco District Attorney's Office announced Thursday. Source
  • Ukraine updates: 12 killed in Russian attacks in Severodonetsk

    World News CTV News
    What's happening in Ukraine today and how are countries around the world responding? Read live updates on Vladimir Putin and Russia's invasion of Ukraine. KYIV, Ukraine -- Russian forces attacked the cities of Lysychansk and Severodonetsk in Ukraine's eastern region of Luhansk, the region's governor said Friday. Source
  • As Biden visits Asia, China launches South China Sea drills

    World News CTV News
    BEIJING - China is holding military exercises in the disputed South China Sea coinciding with U.S. President Joe Biden's visits to South Korea and Japan that are largely focused on countering the perceived threat from Beijing. Source
  • Sri Lanka closes schools, limits work amid fuel shortage

    World News CTV News
    COLOMBO, Sri Lanka - Sri Lankan authorities closed schools and asked public officials not to come to work in a desperate move to prepare for an acute fuel shortage that is expected to last days amid the nation's worst economic crisis in decades. Source
  • Riding the waves off Nova Scotia, this surfer says she felt cancer-free

    Canada News CBC News
    It could be the most beautiful summer day in Nova Scotia or the harshest day of winter; if there are waves, Amber Spurrell will surf. Even while undergoing six rounds of chemotherapy. "Getting in the ocean allowed me not to have cancer for a few minutes and just be," says Spurrell, 42, who was diagnosed last year with breast cancer. Source
  • Canadian study offers important clue to why some back pain becomes chronic

    Canada News CBC News
    A study conducted by researchers at McGill University and scientists from Italy suggests that blocking inflammation after injury might make that pain chronic — a finding that challenges the standard approach to treating pain. Chronic pain — especially in the lower back — is a common ailment, but scientists don't know why some back injuries resolve themselves while others cause suffering for years. Source
  • With Kenney's exit, the 'resistance' era is over — but something louder might follow

    Canada News CBC News
    Late in 2018, Maclean's magazine put five Conservative leaders on its cover and billed them as "the resistance" — an apparent play on the name of the movement that had emerged to oppose Donald Trump in the United States. Source
  • This Ontario election is about many things. Indigenous issues aren't among them, observers say

    Canada News CBC News
    Over the last three weeks, Ontario election campaign leaders and candidates have addressed a range of issues — including affordability, housing and health care — and offered promises leading up to the vote next month. But there has yet to be substantive conversation about Indigenous people and issues, say several current and former political leaders and analysts who spoke with CBC News. Source
  • 'Great replacement' conspiracy unified white supremacists long before Buffalo, N.Y., shooting

    World News CBC News
    Whether it goes by the "great replacement" or another name, the conspiracy theory embraced by the accused Buffalo, N.Y., gunman has inspired several mass shootings in recent years — in Canada and around the world. Ten people died in the attack at Tops Friendly Market in a predominantly Black neighbourhood of Buffalo on Saturday. Source