PhD student shares ASU journey, researching how transgender narratives are shared and preserved
From Hannah Grabowski’s freshman year as an undergraduate student at Arizona State University until now as a graduate student, their studies and free time have focused on supporting and advocating for others. .
Grabowski promoted sexual health education and healthy relationships through ASU devils in the bedroom, worked with survivors of sexual and relationship violence through the Sun Devil Support Network and was the first director of sexual health and wellness for the undergraduate student government on the Tempe campus. Today, Grabowski serves as a graduate mentor to three undergraduate students who make up the board of directors of ASU’s New Accessibility Coalition.
Hannah Grabowski received a double bachelor’s degree from the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences in 2018 and is now earning a doctorate in gender studies as well as two certificates in disability studies and sexuality studies.
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âI’m open about being disabled, non-binary and queer because I think it’s not only a way to build relationships and bond with students, but also visibility is important,â said said Grabowski. âI am also open to the idea of ââbeing a first generation student from a low income background. ”
Grabowski attributes their motivation to stand up for others to their lived experiences and perspectives gained from being raised by a progressive Ohio family.
âMy mother, my grandparents and my great-grandmother all identified as feminists, and my family members worked in unions. Growing up in a low income household gave me some perspective on classism justice, âthey said. “I attribute it to the fact that my mother gave me the resources to get to know the various communities from an early ageâ¦ it feels natural to me.”
Grabowski graduated with a BA in Justice and Social Inquiry as well as Women and Gender Studies from the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences in 2018. They are now earning a PhD in Gender Studies as well as two Certificates in Disability Studies. and in Sexuality Studies, all from the School of Social Transformation.
âI’m very interested in how stories of love and community – primarily within the transgender community, but also the broader LGBT community – are preserved and archived,â Grabowski said.
Accessible and non-traditional archives are central to Grabowski’s research, archives that go beyond typical academic or museum environments and are firmly rooted in the community.
âI think it’s really important for trans people to have access to the story of their own community and how it can be highlighted and improved. I think there is a sort of singular narrative that transgender life is exclusively traumatic and dysphoric. I think it’s important to understand these phenomena, but I think it’s just as important to recognize the love and joy within the trans experience and community.
As Grabowski’s research of material from the 1980s to 2010s in the United States and Canada continues, it prioritizes two questions: how does the depiction and erasure of transgender people in archives impact the sense of belonging of the community? And what can trans studies, which consider both the material and the existential, offer to archival studies?
Grabowski shared more about their experiences at ASU.
Question: What attracted you to ASU initially and what made you want to stay?
Reply: The Women and Gender Studies Program and Justice Studies School of Social Transformation, and I haven’t seen a comparable program, school, or community at other colleges. I visited ASU and felt from the start that it was a welcoming place and even though it was so big it would be easy to find a community. By staying at ASU for my graduate program, I already had these relationships and connections with professors that I wanted to deepen. I had a really good support system here so it made sense to continue my journey to a place where I felt right at home and where I could explore new research topics, but with the same people.
Q: Can you tell us more about your role within the Accessibility Coalition and its goals?
A: Part of the Coalition for Accessibility and part of Justice for People with Disabilities is that there is no hierarchy – we are all collaborative – so even though we have a council of administration for undergraduates, we do not have a president or vice-president; everyone is on the same playing field. As a mentor, I wanted to learn how to be a future undergraduate-friendly faculty member and help teach younger generations of students the resources and lifelong learning. of the process what it means to organize and plan events.
The Accessibility Coalition does more than advocate for accommodations – it’s about the social atmosphere and emotional well-being of the disability community. It is also a question of justice for people with disabilities; we prioritize more than just a rights-based approach. The reason we reached out to the Council of Coalitions is that we want to work with our intersecting communities, such as women with disabilities and black students with disabilities, international students with disabilities, and create a culture of disability. We want visibility, presence and celebration of the disability community – accessibility is more than accessible housing and entrances to a building.
Q: What were your favorite memories at ASU?
A: I would say the Accessibility Coalition is one of them. And one of my biggest accomplishments during my undergrad was organizing free STI tests for hundreds of ASU students through the county health center and health department.
Q: Which professors or mentors had a positive impact on your experience at ASU?
A: In my undergraduate degree, my thesis supervisor at Barrett (Honors College) was Dr Jennifer Brian. I had a really tough time in my last semester, and I went to see her and I was like, âI’m going to retire from Barrett; I want to give up; I can not do that. And she gave me a hug and a piece of chocolate, then basically said, “No, you’re not.” It was that balance between emotional support and comfort and also academic support at the same time saying, âI’m going to challenge you because I know you can do it.
And then in my graduate program my advisor and someone who coached me on how to apply to graduate school is Dr Lisa Anderson. Service of Dr Mako Fitts The most taught me how to be a feminist in higher education, in a bureaucratic university setting and how to keep my values ââof liberation, love and justice, even when you are faced with difficult decisions. So what Dr Jessica Solyom, who is like my best friend. She is a very caring and kind person; she will listen to me and not just give me advice. She is very meaningful to me.
Q: Tell us about the online course you are teaching this summer.
A: This is the first time that I teach WST 460: Women and the Body, and I thank Dr. Mako Ward for sharing his previous program with me. We will discuss how the body is made and remade rhetorically, how bodies are monitored and managed in society, and bodily standards. It is also very important for me to introduce BIPOC, disabled and LGBT writers, artists and content creators.
Q: What do you hope to do after your doctorate?
A: I hope to stay in higher education and become an educator, faculty member or teacher in a school, whether it is a small liberal arts college or a large university. As long as I reach a student, I am happy. So I’m really open to different places in the United States, whether it’s somewhere with a really solid gender curriculum or if it works in other disciplines, like philosophy or sociology.