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

  • Brother: Last victim ID'd in Florida condo building collapse

    World News CTV News
    FORT LAUDERDALE, FLA. -- The final victim of the condo building collapse in Florida has been identified, a relative said Monday, more than a month after the middle of the night catastrophe that ultimately claimed 98 lives. Source
  • Canada's building codes need more tornado-specific protections: engineering experts

    Canada News CTV News
    TORONTO -- In the wake of a devastating tornado that displaced more than 100 residents in southern Ontario earlier this month, engineering experts are calling for Canada’s building codes to be updated to include more protections against the natural disasters. Source
  • StatCan data shows youth unemployment rates have risen during the COVID-19 pandemic

    Canada News CTV News
    HALIFAX -- New data from Statistics Canada shows that while youth unemployment has risen during the COVID-19 pandemic, finding full-time work has been increasingly precarious since the 1980s. The federal agency says both male and female workers between 15 and 30 were less likely to have a full-time job in 2019 compared with 1989, a period marked by a rise in part-time employment for the age group. Source
  • Spate of shootings across Seattle kill four

    World News CTV News
    SEATTLE -- Authorities in Seattle are investigating the fatal shooting of a man in the Lake City neighborhood on Sunday -- the fourth gun homicide in the city in 24 hours. Seattle police spokesperson Valerie Carson said witnesses saw the victim returning to his apartment when a vehicle pulled up and multiple people opened fire. Source
  • Lustre of hosting the Olympics endures for some cities, despite challenges

    World News CBC News
    Host cities spend years preparing for the Olympics — along with billions of dollars and a lot of political capital en route to the finish line. That's the case in Tokyo, where the 2020 Olympic Games are now underway — a year late amid a pandemic and at higher cost than forecast, with many questioning the decision to hold them under the circumstances. Source
  • Pope to UN forum: Hunger is 'crime' violating basic rights

    World News CTV News
    ROME -- Pope Francis on Monday decried as criminal the existence of hunger in a world which can produce enough food for all, building on a warning from UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres that climate change and conflict are a consequence and driver of poverty and income inequality. Source
  • New York City will require its workers to get vaccinated or be tested weekly for COVID-19

    World News CBC News
    New York City will require all of its municipal workers — including teachers and police officers — to get coronavirus vaccines by mid-September or face weekly COVID-19 testing, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced Monday. The rule is expected to affect about 340,000 city employees, making the city one of the largest employers in the U.S. Source
  • N.L. Roman Catholic archdiocese selling land to pay survivors of Mount Cashel abuse

    Canada News CTV News
    ST. JOHN'S, N.L. -- The Roman Catholic archdiocese in Newfoundland and Labrador's capital city is selling properties to pay survivors of abuse at the former Mount Cashel orphanage. Archbishop of St. John's Peter Hundt said in a news release Sunday several parcels of vacant land in St. Source
  • Fewer active fires in B.C., but threat still high in bone-dry southern regions

    Canada News CBC News
    Above average temperatures for many parts of British Columbia aren't expected to ease soon — and Environment Canada says there is no hint of showers until at least the weekend for some southern regions hit hard by wildfires. Source
  • Pink offers to pay bikini bottoms fine for Norwegian beach handball team

    World News CBC News
    U.S. pop singer Pink has offered to pay a fine given to the Norwegian female beach handball team for wearing shorts instead of the required bikini bottoms. On social media Saturday, Pink said she was "very proud" of the team for protesting the rule that prevented them from wearing shorts like their male counterparts. Source