College of Health Sciences and Human Services

Department of Social Work

Dissertation Defended!

Dr. Kai Martinez

Kai Medina-Martinez, the Department's Field Education Coordinator, has defended their dissertation at the University of Utah. Entitled, “YOU ARE NOT WHO YOU SAID YOU WERE WHEN YOU WERE HIRED!”: AN AUTOETHNOGRAPHICAL ACCOUNT OF A STUDENT AFFAIRS PROFESSIONAL’STRANS* BECOMING, the dissertation focuses on authethnographic vignettes. The study specifically looks at the experience of a student affairs educator as they navigated their trans* becoming while working on their campus. While many higher education institutions’ include gender identity and gender expression in their non- discrimination policy and offer trans* affirming healthcare, practice has neglected to reflect a standard that honors trans* staff and faculty in the manner that support them to thrive in the academy.

By considering historical person life events, workplace encounters and institutional policies, the data analysis in this study relies on the conceptual framework of borderlands and microaggression theories. Findings indicate that trans* microaggressions, regardless of the intent, cause the derailment of one’s trans* becoming, and as a result have a detrimental effect in the work life of trans* educators in higher education. This study offers insight to assist trans* educators as they navigate their trans* becoming as well as recommendations for student affairs administrators to consider as they strive to support their trans* colleagues.