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Reducing Vulnerability Through Indigenizing Research Methodologies With Gender And Sexual Minorities. The Ninth Global Forum on Bioethics in Research Auckland, Aotearoa, December, 2008. Vic Mu ñoz , Ed.D. [email protected] Professor of Psychology, Wells College Aurora, New York, USA

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Reducing Vulnerability Through Indigenizing Research Methodologies With Gender And Sexual Minorities

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Reducing Vulnerability Through Indigenizing Research Methodologies With Gender And Sexual Minorities

The Ninth Global Forum on Bioethics in Research

Auckland, Aotearoa, December, 2008

Vic Muñoz, Ed.D.

[email protected]

Professor of Psychology, Wells College

Aurora, New York, USA

Visiting Scholar, Feminist, Gender & Sexuality Studies

Cornell University, Ithaca, New York, USA

This research has been supported by grants from

The Small Change Foundation and The Foundation for the Scientific Study of Sexuality


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Abstract

Rather than affirm Western paradigms of pathology and the abnormal, which have historically led to the marginalization of gender and sexual minorities across cultures, this presentation will explore ways to develop psychological self-determination and decolonial approaches to psychological health. We will explore the critically important role of indigenous languages in opening up spaces for dialogue that move beyond Western concepts of “gay” and “transgender.” The concept of “gender sovereignty” will be offered as a way of indigenizing research with sexual and gender minorities. Gender sovereignty might be a way to conceptualize culturally grounded and culturally appropriate research. For the good health and well being of indigenous peoples and other vulnerable populations, it is urgent that we ethically consider the diversity of gender and sexual identities within a decolonizing framework.


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Conceptual Framework

  • “Research as Resistance” (Brown & Strega, 2005)

  • Toward anti-oppressive research paradigms

  • Decolonial Psychology (Gone, in press; Pace, et. al, 2005; Robbins, 2005)

  • “Cultural Competence” (Helms, 1992; Sue, 2003)

  • Indigenizing Research (Smith, L., 2002; Mihesuah & Wilson, 2004)

  • Reframing Western views of well-being


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Ethical Issues

  • Who is included in the research?

  • Who conducts the research?

  • How is the research conducted?

  • Who benefits?

  • Free Prior Informed Consent (UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, 2005; Indigenous Research Protection Act, Indigenous People’s Council on Biocolonialism, 2000)


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Methodological Questions

  • “What happens when the researched become the researchers?” Linda T. Smith, 2002.

  • What is the ideological and cultural location of the researcher, psychologist, psychiatrist?


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Research Taking Indigenous Perspectives with Gender and Sexual Minorities

  • Max Valerio, 2002

  • Andrew Matzer, 2001

  • Wesley Thomas, 1997

  • Clive Aspin, 2005

  • Jessica Hutchings & Clive Aspin, 2007

  • Mia Nakamura, 2008


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Gender Identity and Sexual Orientation Study(GISO)

  • Longitudinal study: 2002, 2003, 2004

  • Focus on changes in sexuality amongst transgender and transsexual people during transition.

  • Transition brings about changes in sexual identity, sexual orientation, and sexual practices

  • Implications for sexual health


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GISO StudyIssues Disproportionately Affecting Trans People of Color

  • Racism

  • Classism

  • Homophobia

  • Transphobia

  • Religion/Spirituality

  • Family

  • Relationships

  • Culturally appropriate gender roles

  • Language

  • Pervasive Discrimination


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Gender Identity and Sexual Orientation Study (GISO) Issues Affecting Trans People of Color

  • Lee

  • Evan

  • Carter

  • Camila


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Current Models of Gender and Sexual Minority Development

  • Even the best models available today, those that consider trans- development as part of human gender diversity and not pathological, still center Western approaches to transgender health.

  • Aaron Devor, 2004

  • Bockting & Coleman, 2007

  • This is also true of sexual minority development models (Cass, 1979)


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An ethical approach to research with Indigenous and vulnerable people from sexual and gender populations involves:

  • Importance of language

  • Importance of community-based research which is not diagnostic

  • View of gender identity as a form of self-determination, not as pathological

  • The right to self-determine one’s own gender and sexual identity within one’s own cultural context

  • Addressing homophobia, transphobia, and pervasive discrimination

  • Educating health care providers


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A Look at the Caribbean Region

  • Importance of language: Arawak, English, Spanish, French, Dutch, and most significantly the blending of Indigenous languages with the colonial one out of which emerges local languages.

  • Importance of recovering Indigenous concepts and practices in relation to sexuality and gender diversity so as to counter the West’s “sexual deviance” paradigm (Aspin, 2005; Thomas, 1997; Nakamura, 2008; Hall & Kauanui, 1996).

  • Lack of a unified approach to sexual and gender health due to disparate historical relationships to colonial rule.


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A Look at the Caribbean Region:Contrasting Cuba and Puerto Rico “The two wings of the same bird”

  • Mariela Castro, head of the National Centre for Sex Education (CENESEX): "The freedom of sexual choice and gender identity (are) exercises in equality and social justice.”

  • This year, 2008, 50 years after the revolution, Resolution 128 signed into law which will provide free gender reassignment therapy for those who want sex change surgeries.

  • “National Commission for Integral Care of Transsexual People”

  • “International Day against Homophobia and Transphobia”

  • Mariela Castro has been at the forefront of social justice for trans- and sexual minorities since 2004.

  • Cuban doctors trained with doctors from Belgium.

  • Cuba provides a model which focuses on social and cultural education, not a “disease” approach.


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A Look at the Caribbean Region:Contrasting Cuba and Puerto Rico “the two wings of the same bird”

  • “In Puerto Rico, institutional and political practices silence the existence of TG's through the denial of their existence and of their specific needs.” (Rodriguez-Madera & Toro-Alfonso, 2002)

  • No national focus or effort. Trans- and sexual minority people remain highly stigmatized.

  • Several Community Based Organizations focus on HIV/AIDS which continues to be the focus of research on trans- and sexual minority people in Puerto Rico.

  • Need to move beyond “disease model” of “deviance” imported from U.S. psychiatry and medical models to understand how Puerto Rican trans- and sexual minorities develop identities within our own cultural context.


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Toward “Gender Sovereignty”

  • Globalization of Western based diagnosis

  • Gender Sovereignty as a concept and praxis for ethical research with Indigenous and vulnerable communities.

  • What would a decolonizing transgender psychology look like?

  • What might we think about in relation to decolonizing GID as a diagnosis?

  • DSM - V forthcoming in 2012


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The National Native American AIDS Prevention Center (NNAAPC)


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The National Native American AIDS Prevention Center (NNAAPC)


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  • If you would like a copy of the complete paper, please email me

  • [email protected]


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