Kris Gebhard: Combining Their Passions to Create a Career

by Sarah Holland

Kris Gebhard: Combining Their Passions to Create a Career

Kris Gebhard
PhD in Clinical Psychology

Putting a hold on community organizing and activism work to pursue a PhD in clinical psychology was not an easy decision for Kris Gebhard, but one that they felt was necessary in order to better meet the needs of transgender and LGBQIA+ (a common abbreviation for the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Queer, Intersex, Agender, Asexual, and Ally community) identified individuals.

“Most specifically, I felt called to research violence against trans women to inform efforts to stop violence”

Kris’s diverse research work during their time at Mason included the Masculinity and Shame Questionnaire (MASQ), part of a greater program of research on causes of male violence in order to inform prevention interventions. It was designed with the support of Dr. Lauren B. Cattaneo, who “routinely encouraged and joined me in creatively leveraging psychological resources to answer pressing community concerns, and I much appreciate her patience and dedication.” Kris feels that the clinical psychology program’s strong clinical training alongside research has made them an “adept clinical scientist, comfortable in the therapist chair as well as the research hub.”

Kris also credits their external community—such as “Poetry Dinners,” a monthly gathering of trans and queer poets—as invaluable spaces of support and creativity while developing their research.

“I have been thrilled that my time in psychology at GMU has enabled my queer community-oriented social justice activist, gardener, percussionist, and poet selves to truly draw together into synthesis as a psychologist…I’m looking forward to an engaging career as a community-orientated clinical psychologist.”

Kris is headed to University of Chicago Medicine to complete a clinical postdoctoral fellowship in health psychology. They hope to work as a trans and LGBQIA+ therapist following the fellowship, and ultimately wish to open a community and research center to benefit LGBTQIA+ individuals.