My main research interests lie in gender, sexuality, disability and health, and particularly the intersections of these areas. I am developing a new project at the Wellcome Centre that will explore new ways of thinking about (in)fertility, time and the life course (see below).
I also work in collaboration with colleagues at the Centre for Biomedicine, Self and Society at the University of Edinburgh on the relationship between sexuality, activism and biological citizenship in the context of HIV PrEP provision in the UK, and in partnership with the University of Sheffield and Sheffield Hallam University on work arising from Around the Toilet, a series of AHRC Connected Communities projects about the politics and accessibility of public toilets.
My doctoral research at the Department of Sociological Studies, University of Sheffield, centred on the theorisation and medicalisation of sex, and explored personal experiences and broader social conceptualisations of intersex/variations in sex characteristics in the UK.
Highlights of my career to date
It’s been a privilege to work on a number of interdisciplinary projects with amazing research teams, who have taught me so much about how to approach political, engaged research with creativity. These projects have offered many highlights, from producing collaborative zines, digital toolkits and comics on the inadequacy of public toilets, to generating guidance for universities on how staff can support survivors of sexual violence.
I particularly loved working collaboratively to produce a short animated film called The Toilet., which was selected for three international film festivals and has been shown at a number of other special events and conferences. It was amazing to see it shown on a big screen. It was also a highlight to see illustrations from the project printed on to toilet rolls (it seemed like the best place for them). In 2016, we won the NCPPE Engage Award in the Arts, Humanities and Social Science category.
The research I will be undertaking in the Centre
I am developing a new collaborative project at the Wellcome Centre called ‘Reprofutures’, which will explore (in)fertility from a life course perspective. Drawing on my previous research, I will be focusing on experiences of infertility and other reproductive barriers that occur alongside variations of sex characteristics/intersex traits, raising important questions about autonomy, support and temporality.
This project will contribute to ideas about healthcare and the life course, asking how normative development narratives and perceptions of embodied ‘timeliness’ or synchronicity influence our ways of understanding in/fertility. I will consider the role of time and diagnosis in forming reproductive ideals and visions of futurity, and ways of troubling predictability, linearity and continuity.
I am also contributing to one of the Centre’s Beacon projects, Loneliness and Community, and continuing cross-institutional projects in Edinburgh and Sheffield.
Research collaboration team:
Charlotte Jones (principal investigator)
Rachel Purtell (engagement facilitator)
Paul Dutton, Klinefelter’s Syndrome Association UK (KSA UK)
Magda Rakita, intersex activist
Tabitha Taya, founder of LivingMRKH (Mayer-Rokitansky-Küster-Hauser)
Kaz Williams, adult support coordinator of the CAH (congenital adrenal hyperplasia) support group, part of Living with CAH
We are also joined by a number of other valued collaborators who have chosen not to be named.
Our research addresses the reproductive, fertility, relationships and parenting concerns of people with variations in sex characteristics (VSCs). This engaged research project brings together people with direct experience of VSCs, support group facilitators, activists, and campaigners, to draw on a range of expertise and recommend how reproductive information and support can be improved for people with VSCs in the UK.
Since November 2019, the collaboration team have been working together to plan the shape of this research. In the next stage, members of the team will participate in a series of written activities and co-design workshops across four key areas of support which have been identified collectively. The reflections and proposals presented at these workshops will be developed into a guidance document (currently referred to as our ‘support manifesto’). We will then share the manifesto with members of selected VSC support groups for further input, discussion and consultation, adapting and developing the document in collaboration.
Through our support manifesto, we hope to imagine how a different and better world can be created for people with experience of VSCs, and to highlight reproductive concerns as a key area for improvement in healthcare, policy and everyday relationships. This work is funded by the WCCEH and the Engaged Research Exploratory Awards.