Research Student: Ben Vincent
Non-binary Gender Identity Negotiation – The Roles and Impacts of Community and Medical Practice
My research seeks to investigate experiences of non-binary identity negotiation in a UK context. I am particularly focusing on the roles of queer community and medical practice, whilst keeping these categories as broad and participant led as possible. This may include consideration of, for example, experiences of non-binary people with individual friends as well as group dynamics and formal group membership, as well as experiences with going to, wanting to go to, or considering the possibility of going to the doctor for gender transition related services or not.
My research involves participants maintaining a ‘mixed media’ diary for four months, with a semi-structured interview to follow. A mixed media diary invites participants to produce entries (and therefore data) through any media they choose, including written prose, poetry, art, collages, video, or audio.
My work uses symbolic interactionism as a theoretical basis, but also seeks to engage with queer and empowering methodological and ethical dimensionality. Due to benefitting from various privileges (cis, white, male) I consider it a reflexive duty to avoid risking speaking for, or over marginalized groups in the doing of research. I hope for this research to produce utilizable recommendations in the realms of community action or healthcare.
I graduated with a BA in Biological Natural Sciences (specializing in genetics) at the University of Cambridge in 2009. I then took a year out of education when I worked for the National AIDS Trust, and worked as a private tutor in biology and chemistry.
I then undertook a change in academic direction, completing an MPhil in Multi-Disciplinary Gender studies (also at the University of Cambridge) in 2011. I then spent 18 months working for the University of Cambridge in an administrative role before beginning my doctoral research at Leeds.
What motivated me to undertake PhD study?
I believe that academic sociology and activism are natural bedfellows; challenging forms of social injustice or ways in which societal experiences can be improved are ultimately goals associated with both. I believe that whilst there are a range of factors that I find motivating, not least my love of teaching, completion of a PhD marks a step in accessing a particular form of expert status that can be used to achieve valuable social change.
What makes me passionate about my subject?
Whilst my passion and interest in LGBTQ rights originates in personal experience as a queer man, during my MPhil degree I was introduced to many highly inspiring scholars. However more directly formative than this were particular personal experiences, most poignantly the suicide of a dear friend, who was a transgender man. These impassioning factors have ultimately synergized and continue to drive my academic progress.
What are my plans once I have completed my PhD?
Following from the PhD I intend to continue my professional academic development, ideally in the context of a teaching fellowship or postdoctoral position in the UK.