Hello and welcome to the Big Five podcasts from Northumbria psychology department. My name is Dr. Genavee Brown and I'll be your guide into the minds of psychology students, alumni and researchers at Northumbria University. I'm a lecturer and social psychology researcher in the psychology department. Each week on this podcast I'll speak to a guest who's either a student, alumni or researcher in the Northumbria psychology department. By asking them five big questions we learned about their time studying psychology, and hopefully learn some big facts about human behavior and experience. Since February is LGBTQ history month, we'll be talking about research with LGBTQ participants. Today I had the pleasure of speaking to Ansel Lawson. Hi, Ansel. Hi. Ansel started studying and Northumbria in 2019, and is studying on the clinical pathway in psychology, they are level six student completing their project on the challenges of living as a trans person in the Northeast of England. So Ansel my first question, as usual, is why did you decide to study psychology?
Um, well, I first picked psychology at a level. And as soon as I started it, I was amazed. I'd never studied at a GCSE or anything like that. And I'd never really looked into it before, really, really enjoyed it. And my psychology teacher, she really helped us understand like, what sort of pathways I could go down with the course. And I was like, I definitely want to do something like this in the future. So obviously, I picked it at the university level. And then just from there was just, I've loved it ever since I think that I've really liked sciences. And I like the mix between the science and like the theory. So yeah, I'm just really interested in and I really hope to do something with it in the future.
There any specific theories that you find really interesting in psychology?
Yeah. So I love the learning theory. I find that really interesting. I feel like when I'm on like, a day to day basis, you've you've noticed people actually doing these things, especially children. And I was just having like quite a lot of younger cousins and things like that. It's so weird how you can apply things to everyday life that you'd never even thought about before. I studied this course.
Yeah, that is a great thing about psychology. It's, it's applicable in all sorts of different areas. So what's it been like studying psychology at Northumbria?
been really great. Obviously, I've had like, a year and a bit in lockdown as well. But I feel like the whole course still ran so smoothly. For me. I started off as a commuter student, because I live quite locally. And everything from start to finish has been really supportive. I was a equality and diversity rep at one point as well. That was really good, because I managed to like voice across my opinion, as a commuter student and things like that. And I think that the plant, the lecture structures, everything like that, in terms of the course, has been really great. I've managed to manage my time really efficiently and managed to keep a job down as well. And then, in terms of people, I've met, so many people, I met my partner at uni, one of my best friends at uni. And I did start my transition in lockdown. While I was still like studying at uni. And the unis been really, really supportive of that I managed to change my name and stuff without having even go on campus and explain on the software and stuff like that I managed to get it across to everyone, all my lecturers and things and everyone's been really, really understanding and really lovely about it. So that's really supportive and helpful. And when you're obviously really nervous to tell people stuff like that, who've known you for like a year and a bit as a completely different name. But yeah, it's been really good overall. And I would really recommend Northumbria to so many people. I know like my partner studies here, and athlete, I'm sure they'd say exactly the same thing. I've got your younger sibling, and I definitely recommend him come here in the future.
Yeah, that's great that you had so much support. I know that you are doing your project on what it's like to live as a trans person in the Northeast of England and full disclosure here: I know this because Ansel is in fact, one of my project students who I'm supervising. So can you tell us a little bit about the this project, why you were interested in doing it, how it's going, what was your research question, and have you found anything really interesting So far?
so I was really interested in doing something along the lines of gender identity, because obviously, it's quite fresh for me. And I don't really have many people to talk about, like about my experiences and things like that. So I knew I wanted to do something along them lines and eventually managed to pinpoint it to in the northeast, because there wasn't a lot of past studies that that worked around the northeast area, it was a lot, a lot of the South, London, things like that, that I found really popular studies. But I just thought it'd be really interesting to take, like the local area where I live and discuss other people's experiences like as non binary or transgender individuals. And as I started collecting my data, and it has been really, really interesting to see the wide variety of responses in terms of experiences. So my question was, what experiences in the Northeast did that have an effect on mental health. And I found so far, actually quite a lot of positive responses, like a lot of friends, support a family. And that was really great. And then I've had quite a lot of students who have moved from the south of here, who have said that there is a very noticeable difference between living in the South and living in the north in terms of like acceptance and being comfortable. I know, like, I've had quite a few people from like, I think Liverpool was a very popular area I've heard, it's very closed minded, a lot of people said, and the Northeast was just, like, almost like freedom for them, which is really great to hear. And it's been really, really interested in sharing their experiences, and then meeting these people, because personally, I don't know any, any other transgender individuals until actually started doing this project. Well, at least personally, anyway, I only really had like online friends that I had made through like Instagram and things like that. So it was really nice to talk about it and hear people's experiences. And obviously, there was, there wasn't always good ones. But the variation was just amazing. Like, you don't consider like, all the different, like, how many people in this area, like have the same experience as you or the complete opposite? So like, as a transgender person myself, it was so interesting to see that comparison.
Yeah, that's really interesting, what you said about the Northeast actually being fairly accepting. Do you think the gender clinic that's in Newcastle has anything to do with that maybe?
I found that actually, a lot of people who I spoke to went like privately for medical transition, a few people did say that they found, the gender clinic to be, like, helpful and everything, but there's just so many waiting times and things like that, at the minute. And although like they were very supportive, and other ways that couldn't provide things that they wanted, like sooner. And I know that a few people that I've spoken to, they've said that if they could change anything about the country, not just this general area, is that you could shorten the waiting times for people because so long more funding, that was the main thing. Yeah,
I was gonna ask you about that, actually. Because I know one of one of the questions that you wanted to ask was, was about facilities in the northeast, if there are appropriate facilities for trans people? Did you have any, anybody discuss anything around kind of the infrastructure that's available for trans people?
I think the main things that we're talking about in terms of facilities was obviously the NHS and the waiting times and things like that. And then the other one really was the bathrooms that was really popular, especially with non binary individuals, just the fact that a lot of people who were happy enough to go into one bathroom just because they present a certain way, so if they present more feminine, they'd be like, Oh, well, I'm just happy enough to go to the female bathroom but it's not really what I'd want one to do. And that was really the main the main thing that was brought up with non binary people not so much with transgender people there felt a lot like they felt quite comfortable going to which bathroom whichever bathroom their preferred.
Yeah, definitely I can I can understand that. Okay, it was thank you so much for sharing your some of your preliminary results with us because I know you're still conducting interviews. Where do you hope to go from here personally? Do you have any plans after your degree?
I would really like to use my degree in some way. In terms of career, I was really thinking about doing like something along the lines of gender. I know a few people who have worked with smaller, like charities and groups and stuff to help individuals like with alcoholism and things like that. And I was wondering if there was anything I could branch off to in terms of gender and support in that way. I just feel like that would be really interesting. And like, I was quite lucky to have a supportive family and friends when I came out, but obviously, not everyone has that. So I think that I would love to do something along them lines, especially with as doing this dissertation, I just feel like I could apply a lot of it. Especially bad experiences, I could take an understanding from what people have experienced and just help overall, it's just I dread to think people have bad experiences. But obviously, it happens all the time. And anything that that I could do really to help would just be great. And not even necessarily in the northeast, I've always wanted to move away. So things that I could good things I could take from this area and apply it to the areas that would be great.
Yeah, that would be wonderful. If you could apply those lessons that you've learned from your dissertation. That's exactly what we aim for. Is our research having real world impact. Alright, one last question for you. Do you have any advice for other students, this could be about the project this could be about? I don't know getting involved at Northumbria and I know you were a rep for a while just any advice to help students make the most of their degree?
Yeah. So in terms of study, and in general, I definitely, always push time management, it's so important for studies that, that there'll be times where you think, Oh, I don't kind of manage all of this. But in the end, there's always a way, I always think that there's always a way, if I can do it, then anyone can do it. And just like always remember and try and put yesterday's first always, I think that was something that I fell on my second year, like working over lockdown and things like that. Just always put your studies first, wherever you can. And in terms of opportunities, I would say, take on take as much as you can from a course because I was a rep for the course. And then I was I did that little internship with the quality in diversity. And it was it was great. It was paid. So that doesn't come very often from from an internship, which was really good. And I got a lot of experience out of it. I did it for two years. And you learn you meet so many people on across the uni who were helping other minority groups. And they can chip in and help yours. And it was just so interesting to see how many different minority groups actually present in the unit. Because there's so many things that you don't think about who would be affected in what way. So it was really nice to actually create a project to help people and make sure that everyone was was equal in their experience and the psychology of exit, saying it doesn't, it didn't even take up too much time. It's just really interesting to take, take on other people's opinions and pass them on and feel like you're making a difference. It's always nice to chip in that way. But anything that you can, I mean, everything looks good in the future, like on CVS and things like that. And it's just great personal experience. You talk to so many people meet so many people across the journey. And if I'd never done that, I wouldn't have known all these people. And then in general, like, just have fun, because a lot of people only go to uni once so and you might only go to uni once at this age, or I mean, you could uni at any age, but if you're young, especially, I know like I met so many friends or partner like I said, and I think overall it's unis kind of been like a nice getaway for me from home when I was like coming to terms with my gender and things like that. And there's a lot of support around the uni as well. It was it was great. I couldn't say a bad thing about it. I've had such a good experience overall.
Yeah, that's wonderful. I really, I like that advice to still have fun. It sounds like you have really been able to carve out a space for something you really care about at the uni. And I think, you know, that's what we try to, to get students to do is to find what they're passionate about, and then to follow that passion. So I'm glad. I'm really glad that you've been able to do that and had such a supportive experience. Yeah, definitely. So thank you so much, Ansel for coming and speaking us today about your experience in your project. listeners. If you'd like to learn more about Northumbria psychology, check out our psychology department blog at Northumbria PS y.com. You can also follow us on Twitter at Northumbria PS y. If you want you can follow me on Twitter at Brown GE in a v e. If you'd like to be interviewed on the podcast or know someone who would please email me at Genavee email@example.com Finally, if you like the podcast, make sure to subscribe to our podcasts on your listening app and give us a review and rating. I hope you learned something on this voyage into the mind. Take care until next time