Martha Gumprich (they/them) is a research assistant with the REAFFIRM Collaborative examining experiences and mental health of non-binary youth in team sports in Canada.

Pride Month Profile: Martha Gumprich

June 14, 2022

By: Geron Malbas

Faculty of Health Sciences (FHS) Master of Science candidate Martha Gumprich (they/them) is working to help youth of all genders feel safe in sport. Working with the REAFFIRM Collaborative as a research assistant, they are examining experiences and mental health of non-binary youth in team sports in Canada, looking to inform policy that help youth feel safe and able to participate. 

“This work is important because right now there's so much misinformation and harmful rhetoric going around stating that it's unfair for trans women to be in sport,” they explain. “This has been scientifically proven to be untrue - there is no advantage for trans women, and this is also negatively impacting all gender minorities and how they're treated in sport.”

Gumprich’s work is currently underway beginning with data collection under the UnACoRN study, which is currently recruiting participants open to anyone 15-29 years old living in Canada or the U.S. to better understand how and where young people have their identities affirmed or threatened. While still in the beginning stages of their research, the pertinence of Gumprich’s work has become more apparent with new policies around sport being introduced just in the last month.

“Something that surprised me is how quickly things change – new policies were recently introduced in the United States that restrict transgender sport participation,” they point out. “I was not expecting things to move so quickly around this topic, so it really shows the importance of this work needing to happen in this time.”

As a queer, non-binary person, who has been in sport their whole life, Gumprich understands the negative experience of participating in sport leagues, even with their full support system. Whether it be unsupportive coaches, or not feeling safe to register if there are no gender inclusive options, they are looking into how to better the sport experience.

“For example, I don't enter some sport areas because some coaches aren't that enthused about having non-cis athletes,” they explain. “One question to ask, if you’re non-binary: if you only see ‘man or woman’ on a registration form, would you still register? That's what happened to me, and I was unsure if they would be okay with a non-cisgender person joining their team. It was only when I asked that I found out they weren’t okay with a non-cisgender person, so I’m really looking into how to fix that.”

Gumprich advises those teaching or researching in FHS to learn the difference between sex and gender which will not only make student experiences better, but ensures they have considered sex and gender in their research.

“Applying for certain grants require a shown consideration of sex and gender in an applicant’s research, and there are definitely gaps in knowledge surrounding sex and gender, particularly just the difference in meanings, and I think - for Pride Month - I would encourage all faculty to study the two thoroughly,” they advise. “Not only would it make students’ experiences better seeing their professors understand them and their work better, but it also allows professors to give better feedback and ask more informed questions, especially on assignments or research.”

If you’re looking to learn more about Martha Gumprich and their work, you can take a look at some of their highlighted research and works:

  1. Tales of the 2S/LGBTQ+ podcast episode: Martha Gumprich and Haley Dunwoodie - The Research into LGBTQ2S+ Spaces
  2. MindMap article about queer, Jewish seniors. 
  3. MindMap article about making more space for all in cycling. 
  4. Trans Care BC sex and gender educational tool.
  5. Martha’s blog going through their experience coming out as non-binary.