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Krysti Ryan


  • Ph.D Candidate - Sociology, University of California, Davis, (expected Spring 2017)
  • M.A. - Sociology, University of California, Davis, June 2010
  • B.A. - Sociology, Willamette University, Salem, OR May 2007


My teaching and research interests are in the Sociology of Sex and Gender, Family, Inequality and Stratification, and Quantitative and Qualitative Research Methods. My current research agenda consists of a collaborative mixed-methods project and a qualitative dissertation, both of which address the social forces that perpetuate restrictive gender norms and undermine efforts to advance tolerance for gender diversity in US society.

In the first project, I am collaborating with a colleague at UC Davis to assess the effect of narrowing gender boundaries over the twentieth century on childhood gender expression and the rise in visibility of gender-diverse youth. We draw on deviance theory and an analysis of children’s toy advertisements to explore how the recent emergence of extreme gender boundaries in children’s culture have led a greater range of behaviors to be perceived as gender deviant, especially as children and parents push back against increasingly rigid gender standards. While these new normative standards limit the opportunities and modes of expression for both boys and girls, we explore how the impact and consequences of hegemonic standards of masculinity are particularly salient for boys.

My dissertation research explores the social forces that generate and restrict gender progress by examining the experiences of 45 supportive parents of gender-diverse youth. Using data from semi-structured in-depth interviews, I analyze the circumstances under which hegemonic gender schemas that sustain inequality between men and women are challenged and reinforced as parents work to make space for their child's gender diversity in a culture structured by the gender binary. I consider how these parents develop alternate understandings of gender themselves, how they navigate the gender binary on behalf of their children, and how they respond to social resistance from family, friends and institutions that subscribe to hegemonic gender ideology.

Dissertation Committee: Kimberlee Shauman (chair), Mary Jackman, Vicki Smith, Linda Blum (Northeastern University)


UC Davis Magazine. December, 2016. Thought Leaders in the College of Letters and Science.

News.com.au. September 30, 2016: The mums pushing for change for their transgender children.

Broadly. August 23, 2016: How the Mothers of Transgender Children are Changing the World.

Science Daily. August 23, 2016: Study examines families' journeys to accepting transgender children.


Ryan, Krysti N. 2016. “‘My mom says some girls have penises:’ How mothers of trans-kids are pushing gender ideology forward (and how they’re not).” Social Sciences 5(4) 73.

Felmlee, Diane H., Krysti Hilton (Ryan), and David Orzechwicz. 2012. “Romantic Attraction and Stereotypes of Gender and Sexuality.” In The Psychology of Love, Michele Paludi (ed). Santa Barbara: Praeger.

Works in progress or under review:

“Examining the Family Transition: How parents of gender-diverse youth develop trans-affirming attitudes.” Solicited submission in progress for Generation Sex: Gender, Sexual Behavior, and Identity among Contemporary Youth (Sociological Studies of Children and Youth, Volume 21). edited by S. L. Blair and P. N. Claster. United Kingdom: Emerald Group Publishing Limited.

“‘My [transgender] kid just needs to pee!’ Bathroom politics and gender policing in public school restrooms.”

With Elizabeth Sweet. “Between a Rock and a Pink Place: An Exploration of Narrowing Gender Boundaries and Childhood Gender Expression.”