Quintessence Townsend, M.A. (Candidate) is a current graduate student at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies (MIIS), pursuing degrees in both Public Administration and International Education Management. They received their B.A. in Languages and Literatures with concentrations in Russian and (Mandarin) Chinese and minor in Political Science from University of California, Riverside in 2021. Between their undergraduate and graduate studies, their relevant coursework background includes the following areas: gender and sexuality studies, gender and sexual minorities in Japan, qualitative research, human rights, social issues, justice, and change in international education, and student development theory and services. More information about Quintessence’s professional background and experiences can be found here.
Positionality and responsibility. I define myself as a cisgender, Black woman whose identity is “under construction” (i.e. questioning). Currently, I define myself as “LGBTQ+ adjacent”. This means that while I do not see myself as a part of the community, I have many close friends–domestic and international–as well as family members and colleagues who are in the community that I could not imagine living my life without. Given this, I still acknowledge my privileges as a light-skinned, cisgendered woman with a heteronormative appearance as these privileges have allowed me to avoid discrimination, prejudice, and violence based on an externally perceived queer identity. My motivations for this project lie in the growing pushback against LGBTQ+ rights (esp. transgender rights) in the United States as well as a desire to understand LGBTQ+ rights outside of the U.S. context. As a graduate research assistant, my responsibility lies in working to uphold ethical values and practices in the course of this project. These values include maintaining respect for others, beneficence (do no harm), and justice and are underpinned by practices such as gaining and maintaining trust, maintaining participant confidentiality, gaining informed consent, minimizing participant risk, and being transparent about ourselves and the project. In preparation for engaging with the international LGBTQ+ community I have received training from CITI in Social and Behavioral Research.