Backgrounder: World’s only Chair in Transgender Studies

The overwhelming reality for transgender people during most of the 20th century was profound isolation, secrecy, silence and shame, according to the new Chair in Transgender Studies Dr. Aaron Devor. He adds, “Despite this, there were brave pioneers who worked for the betterment of transgendered people in the early part of the century.”

From the 1970s through the early 1990s, transgender research activity in North America and Europe steadily increased due to funding from the Erickson Educational Foundation in the US, as well as support of universities, hospitals and government agencies. Today, the World Professional Association for Transgender Health now has over 1,000 members in 36 countries on six continents.

The only two research chairs ever established in this general area of study no longer exist: in 1988, the Free University of Amsterdam took the unprecedented step of awarding a Chair in Transsexology to endocrinologist Louis Gooren who held the position until his retirement in 2008; in 1992, psychologist Peggy Cohen-Kettenis, working closely with Gooren, was awarded the Chair in Gender Development and Psychopathology at the University of Utrecht Medical Centre and the position ended when she moved to the Free University of Amsterdam in 2002.

The responsibilities of the Chair in Transgender Studies at UVic will include the following:
•    Academic Director of the Transgender Archives at UVic
•    Building local, national and international linkages with others working in transgender studies
•    Fostering research and scholarship in transgender studies
•    Hosting visiting academic and community scholars
•    Mentoring students and junior colleagues
•    Community outreach and knowledge mobilization
•    Teaching in the area of transgender studies
•    Development work in support of the Chair in Transgender Studies at UVic.

For more information about new research and scholarship in transgender studies at UVic, please contact Dr. Aaron Devor by email at or visit the website (

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Keywords: transgender, gender

People: Aaron Devor

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