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Three questions for PhD student Ali Pearson

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November 14-18 is Trans Awareness Week, which aims to increase awareness, visibility and knowledge of trans people and the issues faced by members of trans communities. It is also an opportunity to celebrate the lives of trans and nonbinary people and the contributions they have made and continue to make. In honour of this week, we asked three FIFSW PhD students whose research focuses on trans health and rights to share insight on their work.

Photo of Ali Pearson

Ali Pearson (they/them), PhD student, University of Toronto, FIFSW

Tell us about your current research and work.

My research interests lie in addressing barriers to well-being for Gender and Sexual Minority Youth (GSMY), with a focus on the intersections of neurodiversity and access to services for rural and remote youth. I also work, through education, to facilitate the inclusion of GSMY supports into existing programs to further accessibility. I am a passionate advocate of the importance of creating queer-affirming community spaces, online programming, online communities, affirmative therapy options and education that transcends geographic barriers.

I work alongside Dr. Shelley Craig at the International Queer Youth Resilience (INQYR), an interdisciplinary and multilingual research partnership that aims to support and better understand the resilience of LQBTQ+ youth using technology-engaged research and practice. Through my involvement with INQYR, I have also had the opportunity to act as a facilitator for AFFIRM, a CBT-based intervention focused on improving stress-coping skills for LGBTQ+ youth and adults.

What inspired your decision to pursue your PhD?

Prior to starting FIFSW’s PhD program, I lived in Northern Ontario, where I became aware of the unique challenges faced by isolated LGBTQ+ community members living in rural and remote communities. While there, I co-founded The PRIDE Project, a grass roots organization that supports the Queer and Trans community. Through working with Transgender and Neurodiverse youth in Sault Ste. Marie, it quickly became apparent that to elicit the systemic changes that were required to begin to meet the needs of our community, it would be helpful for me to further my education.

What books or websites would receommend for those interested in learning more about Trans health and rights?

The PRIDE Project website ( houses resources and community supports.

If you are looking for an informative and enjoyable read, I suggest the award-winning Canadian author Ivan Coyote. Coyotes’ tales of navigating complex and person issues of gender identity are deeply moving.


Three questions for logoRead more Q&As with PhD students whose research and work focuses on trans health and rights:



Trans Awareness Week 2022

Visit U of T’s Sexual & Gender Diversity Office (SGDO) website to explore events and workshops taking place across all three campuses.