Undergraduate Research & Scholarships

Lark Chang-Yeh L&S Social Sciences

Trans Epistemologies: Reimagining Education through Ballroom and Drag

When a transgender or genderqueer student seeks a safe and productive learning environment for themself in a K-12 school, they are hypervisible and bear the weight of a cisnormative institution “accommodating” them. Only when a student “comes out” do schools have a catalyst to change their highly gendered and restrictive ways of learning. Schools’ support of trans and genderqueer students is driven by liberal individualism, focusing primarily on name changes, legal paperwork, and bullying—obscuring larger structural issues at play. They don’t ask: why is there sustained and repetitive erasure of trans personhood in the first place? How is our concept of knowledge production cisnormative? My research will expand the narrative of trans education by studying the formation and sustainability of liberatory BIPOC LGBTQ+ Bay Area ballroom and drag spaces for youth built upon marginalized epistemologies. The cultural practices in these spaces challenge rigid gender norms (e.g., gendered dress codes) and empower LGBTQ+ youth to express and author themselves fully, authentically, and under their terms and conditions; an agency that is not always enabled within traditional schooling spaces.

Message To Sponsor

Thank you so much to my donors for their generosity and support of this research project! With your help, I will be able to expand the currently narrow narrative and scope of research on trans education and will get the chance to pursue my passion for research full-time. Thank you so much for this wonderful opportunity!
Major: Sociology and Art Practice
Mentor: Kris Gutierrez
Sponsor: Wishek Fund
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