The experiences of diversegender tertiary students: Structural discrimination and microaggressions


This paper documents forms of discrimination that stufents with diversegender identities face within New Zealand tertiary enviroment, and reports on students suggestions for strategies to support the normalisation of gender diversity. Findings from this qualitative study are based on data collected via in-depth, semi-structured interviews with seven participants. They indicate that although participants did not generally experience dicrimination through direct attacks or violence, the negative effects of gender-normativity and of administrative processes that were not suitable, as well as a lack of staff awareness about the needs of diverse-gender students, comprise discrimination through ever-present microaggressions. Findings also highlight the resilience of diverse-gender students and their ability to develop personal  strategies to manage their experiences of being part of a marginalised group. Strategies that particpants identified to help create authentic inclusive tertiary enviroments include increasing the visibility of diverse-gender identities within policies, processes and curricula, and developing educational programmes for staff on the unique needs of the diverse-gender population. This paper evidences structural discrimination that pervades most of society in relation to gender diversity, and suggests that it could be addressed fairly easily within the tertiary sector by those who manage its systems, pending education and awareness.

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Powell, C and Gremillion, H. (2018). Whanake: The Pacific Journal of Community Development, Vol 4(2). Retrieved from


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