By: Grace Hebron, Contributing Writer
Students and staff were invited to bring their lunch to room 313 in the University Union, where graduate clinical psychology student Louis Lindley presented a qualitative investigation of non-binary individuals’ sexuality.
The lecture was hosted by the Center for Student Diversity, as part of the second installation of its three-part “Lunch & Learn” lecture series, “Full Spectrum,” Oct. 10.
“Sexual Fantasy Across Gender Identity: A Qualitative Investigation of Differences Between Cisgender and Non-Binary Peoples’ Imagery,” is the name of the study conducted by Lindley, M. Paz Galupo, a professor of psychology at Towson University, and researchers Annalisa Zan and Antonio Prunas from The University of Milan.
The study, which uses a mixed methodology to explore the topic of sexual fantasy through the intersections of sexual orientation and gender identity, is the only one of its kind to explore the sexual fantasies of non-binary individuals, whose experiences, Lindley said, are often assumed in research to be the same as those of transgender individuals.
“What’s most important is that non-binary people have a critical rejection of the normal binary system and binary expectancies,” Lindley said, adding that there is a need for increased focus on non-binary-specific experiences in research
“A limitation is that often times in research, we are lumping [those experiences] into one category, so we are studying the transgender experience but we are really talking about a plethora of different types of experiences,” Lindley said. “We’re really trying to close that gap in that dearth of research that exists about non-binary individuals and their sexual engagement,” he added.
The study asked how non-binary and cis-gender individuals differ in terms of descriptions of sexual fantasies, and results translated from Italian to English revealed that many of the fantasies of non-binary individuals were marked by the effects of societal transphobia.
“Society devalues trans people and non-binary individuals and devalues relationships which involve those individuals,” Lindley said, noting that Italian society tends to hold more binary views in terms of gender.
According to Lindley, the tendancy of cingener individuals to fetishise transgender and nonbinary individuals, led to participants being less likely to view themselves as desirable.
While it revealed some adverse effects of societal views on sexuality, the study, Lindley said, ultimately aims “…to increase the knowledge of what a healthy trans and non-binary sexuality can look like.”
Lindley, who identifies as a queer, trans, man, added that a cis-normative sex-education fails to provide, queer, trans, and non-binary individuals with a healthy understanding of sex. The study, he said, is “…the first step in doing that line of work.”
Sophomore pre-electronic media and film major Marah Williams appreciated Lindley’s effort to bring a seldom-discussed topic to the table at Towson University.
“I do identify as a queer individual,” said Williams. “Even though I’m not non-binary, I think it’s important to talk about non-binary individuals and their experiences with sexual fantasies, because it’s something that’s not talked about at all in any studies.”
Trevor Pitts, a first-year graduate student in Towson University’s experimental psychology concentration shared that he is glad that research is being done on the sexual fantasies of non-binary people.
“Everyone has different relationships with their gender and sexual orientation so i think that it’s our job as researchers to understand it better,” said Pitts.
“Full Spectrum, A Queer Lecture Series,” continues Nov. 6.