Graduate Citings: Tales from the Field – Shanna Kattari

002_shanna_brightHappy Winter Quarter DU grad students! We’re so happy to have you back on campus. We have so much amazing talent here at DU and we’ve been honored to be able to speak with just a fraction of you over 2016.  For 2017 we’re very excited to feature the exciting work Shanna Kattari. Shanna has utilized an intersectional lens to examine a variety of different issues involving sexuality in marginalized communities, particularly LGBTQ individuals & people with disabilities. Her main goal with her research is to create social change and she is working to ensure that multiple marginalized voices, such as trans people of color or disabled trans folks, are heard within the sometimes isolated confines of academic scholarship.

Researcher: Shanna Kattari, a PhD candidate at the Graduate School of Social Work

Current Research: I do research in a variety of areas that can be boiled down to the three areas sexual health/sexuality, disability/ableism, and discrimination/disparities. One area of focus has been on the experiences of transgender and gender variant individuals (those whose gender identity does not match the sex they were assigned at birth), including health disparities and discrimination across the variety of contexts. This has included published pieces on the differences between cisgender (non-transgender) and trans folks in experiencing housing and employment discrimination, racial differences in the experiences of trans people in experiencing health services discrimination, age group differences of trans people who have experienced health care discrimination, how conforming to cisgender standards of gender are related to experiences of homelessness and shelter discrimination face by trans people, and about police reporting and intimate partner violence (IPV) experiences of trans people. My collaborators and I also have several papers under review in this area including research about trans-masculine parenting experiences, racial differences in trans people’s experiences of social service discrimination, (dis)ability differences in trans people’s experiences of social services discrimination, trans people’s experiences of survival sex work, how trans inclusive health care providers are related to the mental health outcomes of trans people, and a Transgender Inclusive Behavior Scale to measure how supportive and inclusive one’s behavior is of trans people.

Collaborators: I have been privileged enough to work with a variety of collaborators on this topic area, including Dr. N. Eugene Walls, Dr. Leslie Hasche, Darren Whitfield, Lisa Langenderfer-Magruder, Stephanie Begun, Jonah DeChants, Antonia Alvarez, Rachel Speer and Leo Kattari. Because of the intersectional lens that frames my research, I get to work with people who have a variety of research specialties in finding those crossroads between their area of focus and experiences of transgender and gender variant folks.

shanna-quoteInitial Inspiration: As someone who has many trans and gender variant friends, as well as a trans partner, it is crucial to me that research be done exploring the experiences of discrimination and incredible disparities faced by this community. There are so many negative experiences that are the result of transphobia that need to be further examined in order to create change in society, show the incredible resilience of this community, and change our world into becoming more inclusive of trans folks.

Biggest Challenge: There is so little extant literature on trans and gender variant communities, especially from a social science perspective (as compared to medical research), that trying to build on what already exists has been challenging as sometimes there is almost nothing to use as a framework for our new studies. Much of what we know is based on community experiences, but marginalized communities are often ignored in research, especially those with multiple marginalized identities, like trans people of color, or disabled trans folks. It is important to make sure their experiences are added to the literature, and further more, that research is not done solely for research sake, but with the intention of creating change.

Research Advice: Take your work that you’ve done for classes or will be doing for class and work it into publishable papers; you’ve already put in a lot of the effort, so it makes sense to follow it through. It also helps me to think about how much effort the various communities I research with have expended to be part of this work; the time taking surveys, the emotional components sharing their stories in interviews, etc. It is our responsibly as researchers to make sure these effort doesn’t go unused, and one way to do so is to ensure that their voices are heard within the world of the academy.

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