Date of Award


Document Type

Open Access Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Education/Leadership in Urban Schools

First Advisor

Patricia Krueger-Henney

Second Advisor

Zeena Zakharia

Third Advisor

Shirley S. Tang


Gender-expansive youth are regularly discriminated against because they do not fit into the socially constructed gender binaries of the schools they attend. Nor, typically, do they have a general sense of personal safety, often feeling socially and academically excluded from their dominant heteronormative school culture. This youth participatory action research mixed method study advocates for the academic success of gender-expansive youth by documenting how gender expansive young people embody damaging educational experiences and to what extent these experiences can also lead to solidarity, resilience, and perseverance. The research findings include that gender expansive youth feel tolerated but not supported by the institution of school, or by key members in their learning institutions. It is also apparent that peers wish to stand in solidarity with gender expansive youth in order to improve the educational experiences for all youth. This study suggests a multi-layered “Economy of Borderland Performance” that showcases the interrelation of gender performances between the student, administration and larger societal conditioning around gender. In part what is highlighted is young people’s ever-present performativity of “Borderland Solidarity” that is based on them choosing to leave the arena of performance and enter into solidarity with one another. This study culminates with the author’s self-reflections of the ways that this research was guided by radical love.