Dr. Ashley Austin, Ph.D., LCSW: Research Director and Principal Investigator
Dr. Ashley Austin is a cisgender ally to the transgender and gender-diverse (TGD) community, Professor of Social Work, and Distinguished Scholar for the Center for Human Rights and Social Justice at Barry University. Dr. Austin is engaged in collaborative research locally and internationally centering on the lives of TGD youth and adults. Multiple publications and presentations emerge from Dr. Austin's projects, which illuminate the needs, experiences, and perspectives of TGD youth and adults, as well focus on creating TGD-affirmative practice contexts. In partnership with Dr. Shelly Craig at the University of Toronto, Dr. Austin developed and published the Transgender-Affirmative Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (TA-CBT) model, an adapted affirmative intervention targeting the specific mental health care needs of TGD clients. This model represents the first of its kind to integrate a transgender-affirmative framework with empirically supported CBT techniques to address minority stress and harness resilience.
Dr. Austin spends a great deal of time training mental health, social service, and medical providers around the globe to become more TGD affirmative. Finally, as a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and member of the World Professional Association for Transgender Health, Dr. Austin has the privilege of working with many TGD youth and adults as a therapist in South Florida. Dr. Austin's clinical practice is focused on supporting individuals on their journey toward living fully authentic and connected lives.
Joshua Holzworth, BSW: Project Director
Joshua Holzworth holds a Bachelor of Social Work degree from Barry University. Josh was awarded the 2019 Violence Prevention Fellowship from the Center for Human Rights and Social Justice to work with Dr. Austin on qualitative and quantitative research projects focused on elucidating risks to well-being, as well as sources of resilience, for transgender and gender-diverse youth and adults. In addition to his work with the Trans Perspectives Lab, Josh serves as a Research Assistant for the United States region of the International Partnership for Queer Youth Resilience (INQYR) based out of the University of Toronto. In this role, he focuses on the adaptation of information and communication technologies by gender-diverse youth in the United States. Josh's clinical and research concentrations include mental illness, stigma, marginalized populations, and the traumatic sequelae of psychotic episodes. He is particularly interested in adapting trauma-informed approaches to clinical intervention with marginalized populations experiencing severe mental illness such as psychosis and schizophrenia. In 2020, Josh was named Student of the Year by the Miami-Dade Unit of the Florida Chapter of the National Association of Social Workers. He was also awarded the Barry University Field Education Student of the Year in 2020.
Ryan Papciak, MSW, LCSW: Graduate Research Assistant
Ryan is a Ph.D. student at the Barry University School of Social Work. Prior to working as a graduate research assistant with Dr. Austin on the Expanding Knowledge on Gender Dysphoria study, Ryan facilitated groups for gender and sexual-minority youth at a local LGBTQ+ Center in North Carolina. Ryan identifies as a trans man and works to advocate for the transgender and gender-diverse community. Ryan's research interests include Gender Dysphoria, gender minorities, and trauma.
Lindsay Lovins, B.A.: Graduate Research Assistant
Lindsay is an MSW student at Barry University. Her professional interests center on research and clinical work with LGBTQ+ populations as well as the intersections of human sexuality. Lindsay has completed AFFIRMative Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Training and is certified in Mental Health First Aid. Lindsay is currently serving as a research assistant for the Expanding Knowledge on Gender Dysphoria study.
Aiyana Gonzalez: Research Assistant
Aiyana Angeni Gonzalez is a current MSW student at the Barry University School of Social Work. As a graduate assistant at the Center for Human Rights and Social Justice (CHRSJ) at Barry University, she serves the LGBTQ+ Community both on and off campus. Aiyana advocates for the LGBTQ and other marginalized and oppressed populations. As an "open and out" transgender female, Aiyana contributes to awareness and education within the Barry community by sharing her transformational experience and the outer community at large through her Field Practicum and as board elect Chairwoman for the LGBTQ Advisory Board for Miami Dade County. She is the recipient of a Fellowship award for the 1-Human Trafficking Coalition (1-HTC) through the CHRSJ. Aiyana is also certified in Restorative Circle Practices and as a TRACKS intergroup dialogue facilitator. Aiyana is currently in standing as a Deans’ List and Deans’ Scholar award recipient and is a member of the Psi Chi International Honor Society for Psychology, Alpha Chi National College Honor Society, and the Pi Gamma Mu International Honor Society for Social Science.
Noemi Marquez, LCSW, PhD Student, CHRSJ Doctoral Fellowship Awardee
Noemi earned the 2019 Doctoral Fellowship Award with the Center for Human Rights and Social Justice for her Dissertation Research focused on The Lived Experiences of Foster Care Among Persons who Identify as Transgender and Gender Diverse (TGD). This research interview TGD adults about their experiences while in foster care. Findings will be used to inform recommendations for improving practice and policies that eliminate re-traumatization of TGD youth within the child welfare system.
Noemi is also a clinician and supervisor and director of Counsel & Connect and SF Health Collaborative. Ms. Marquez has specialized in clinical practice with children and adults that identify as TGD, LGBQ+, often providing advocacy through professional education and consultation to educational, legal, and medical professionals.