Date of Completion


Embargo Period



Mary Bernstein, Nancy Naples, Christin Munsch, Bandana Purkayastha

Field of Study



Master of Arts

Open Access

Open Access


Many universities provide LGBT Ally Training Programs, but who are the allies who attend them? My research examines how participants conceptualize cis allyship and how they enact it in their professional and personal lives. In describing the gendered and racialized role of cis allyship, I situate my analysis in theories of doing gender & performativity (West & Zimmerman 1987; Johnson 2013) and the scholarship around white allies in academic diversity narratives (Bonilla-Silva 2006; Collins & Bilge 2016). Focusing on an Ally Training program at State University, I conducted an ethnography of 4 Ally Trainings and performed 21 interviews with 12 participants and 1 training instructor over the course of a semester. I found that participants’ allyship manifested differently in professional and familial contexts; allyship is tentatively encouraged in the workplace under vague notions of diversity, but in the latter, it is mitigated by participants’ absolving family member’s actions through rationalizations, downplaying the need for allyship. Additionally, participants’ allyship to queer and trans people were implicated in whiteness – allowing them to support a decontextualized and transnormative trans person. As a trans woman, I also analyze the various ways that allies express emotion in the context of the interview based on their ability to clock someone as trans.

Major Advisor

Mary Bernstein