After studying a Bachelor of Pharmacy with Honours at JCU, Swapna was excited and anxious to delve into her research, but says her supervisors made all the difference.
“I was very glad I contacted Professor Beverley Glass to be my primary research supervisor as she is very engaged in this research project. I’m really grateful that she’s so welcoming,” Swapna says. “Associate Professor Robin Ray is my secondary supervisor and has been very supportive and contributed to my growth as a researcher; I have been very fortunate to have great supervisors on my project.”
Approaching the research, Swapna says it was important to first educate herself and then build relationships with other healthcare professionals and members of the transgender community.
“I attended conferences, completed training, and used online resources,” Swapna says. “While attending these conferences and trainings, I was able to develop really good professional relationships with many other healthcare professionals such as GPs, sexual health physicians, pediatricians, and endocrinologists. It was a really great experience.”
Swapna says she took great care to listen and build relationships with the transgender community. “I attended some social functions and also an event that was arranged by the Queensland Council for LGBTIQ+ Health and Many Genders One Voice,” Swapna says. “It gave me an opportunity to listen to their needs, build relationships and develop an understanding of their perspectives, since I don’t have a lived experience.”
Swapna says connecting with many different people has been an invaluable part of her PhD. “It’s been a group effort, when I have been doing this research.”
Although Swapna emphasises that she is still learning every day, she was nominated for the 2021 Ally of the Year Award at the Trans Community Awards.
“It was fantastic to know my research is important to the transgender community. I felt so honoured and humbled, because I never thought this research would make such an impact on individuals."
JCU PhD Candidate Swapna Chaudhary