Institute of Advanced Studies (IAS)


Call for participants: Transforming Brick Walls

27 April 2022

Transforming brick walls: Exploring barriers to belonging and progression experienced by trans and non-binary students in Higher Education. ***CURRENTLY SEEKING PARTICIPANTS***

photo of a brick wall with a hole in

Transforming Brick Walls is a project that aims to contribute toward making UCL more equitable & inclusive by working collaboratively with participants to:

  • Identify barriers to belonging and progression encountered by trans and non-binary students at UCL
  • Evidence the impacts of those barriers and how they are negotiated by students
  • Co-devise recommendations for redressing the barriers identified

Prioritising the voices and experiences of trans and non-binary people who have studied at UCL since 2010 is central to the project, which takes a collaborative, critical and constructive approach to analysing and addressing social, administrative and intellectual barriers. Theoretically, this research draws upon Sara Ahmed’s thinking on institutional brick walls as ‘hardenings of histories into barriers in the present’ (2017: 136), Hil Malatino’s work on Trans Care, and Kimberlé Crenshaw’s concept of intersectionality.  In this project, belonging is understood as relating to acceptance and fitting in, feeling included, safe and supported in who you are within the university, and the faculties, schools, departments, groups and networks that you are/were part of. Progression refers to development and growth to as a student, which may relate to a person’s studies but could also connect with personal growth and/or participating in extra-curricular activities, groups and networks.

Methods: Workshops and/or interviews via Zoom, during May and June 2022.

Criteria: Trans and non-binary people who have studied at UCL as an undergraduate, graduate or postgraduate since 2010.In this research gender is recognised as diverse and trans and non-binary people’s identities and experiences are understood through an intersectional lens, with different ways of being trans and/or non-binary valued equally. The experiences of gender non-conforming and/or gender-questioning people are understood as being relevant to this research since they are included in the ‘trans umbrella’ and can be impacted by transphobia and disadvantaged by dominant gender norms.

Research outputs: A report that will be shared widely within and beyond UCL. Articles based on this research will be submitted to academic journals and this research will be shared through public talks and presentations in academic contexts.