Trans- youth matter(s): an exploration of the 'safe' space phenomenon

Mobley, Erin Nora (2017) Trans- youth matter(s): an exploration of the 'safe' space phenomenon. Masters thesis, Memorial University of Newfoundland.

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This research notices the ways that safe space gets talked about in relation to education. In particular, I explore the phenomenon of safe space through the school-based experiences and perspectives of trans-identified and non-binary youth. Qualitative data was gathered from interviews conducted with young trans-identified and non-binary individuals (ages 19-24) who have recently attended a public secondary school in Ontario. The method of narrative inquiry is used to focus on depth and detail in each narrative—what matters to the youth is central. The goal is to open up the many meanings of safe space and suggest some ways that schools can do better in supporting the needs of trans-identified and non-binary students. The findings reveal that securing a single, definitive understanding of safe space is not entirely possible, or ideal; each youths’ encounters in, and relationships to, school spaces were unique to their experience, which renders the concept slippery and hard to pin down. Moreover, safe space as rooted in a kind of ‘protectionist’ education rhetoric is not necessarily reflective of the perspectives of the youth in this research, whose meanings around, and experiences of, safe space cross over many boundaries with various attachments. Therefore, Canada’s education system might be better served by conceptualizing safety more broadly—beyond security and control of schooling—and in a way that considers trans- youths’ school-based realities. I also tried to demonstrate how schools, specifically educators, might do better in supporting trans- youth by offering an action piece in the form of a list of suggestions. The following are amongst the most effective ways to address the support needs that the youth have identified in this thesis: (1) accept that we all have a social location; (2) see self-reflection and education as ongoing; (3) provide access to information; (4) stumble over language; and (5) implement gender-neutral washrooms and change rooms.

Item Type: Thesis (Masters)
Item ID: 12587
Additional Information: Includes bibliographical references (pages 117-127).
Keywords: Transgender, Safe space, Youth, Education, Narrative Inquiry
Department(s): Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of > Gender Studies
Date: February 2017
Date Type: Submission
Library of Congress Subject Heading: Transgender youth -- Services for; Gender-nonconforming people -- Services for

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