Shaan Rathgeber Knan profile

Shaan Knan

Shaan Rathgeber Knan

University of Brighton (2022)


Dr Olu Jenzen


Resourcing Gypsy, Romany, Traveller trans youth in the UK: An exploration of intersectionality using heritage as a vehicle for empowerment


Gypsy, Roma and Traveller (GRT) communities in Britain experience wide-ranging inequalities. Often fuelled by media coverage ‘Romaphobic’ attitudes, can be found across British society. A (2022) YouGov/UofBirmingham report found they are the most disliked of all communities in the UK.

Concurrently, since 2015, the UK has slipped from being the most progressive ‘gay rights’ nation in Europe - occupying the top spot in the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association’s, annual ‘Rainbow Map - in 2020 to 10th place and falling. Governmental ambivalence around trans rights and rampant anti-trans rhetoric in the British media, has had a significant negative impact on the quality of life of trans and gender-diverse people.

A 2017 Stonewall report found trans, non-binary and gender-diverse children and young people experience disproportionately high levels of mental ill health, whilst Greenfields & Rogers (2020) have highlighted the enormous impact on mental health and suicide ideation of GRT community members of exposure to discrimination and hate crime.

This growing resistance to trans rights, paired with persistent racism towards Gypsy, Roma and Traveller communities, positions GRT transgender youth in an exceptionally vulnerable intersectional position (BBC/ de Gallier, 2022). However, there is a distinct lack of research about gender-diverse young GRT people, whose voices are rarely heard.

This project will result in the first in-depth account of gender-diverse young GRT people’s experiences in Britain. It will use heritage sites such as museums, archives and cultural/community hubs as a medium through which to enable young GRT persons to explore and celebrate their experiences of racial and sexual identity and compare their narratives with that of their LBGTQ+ elders.

By redressing the lacuna in museum and heritage representation of Gypsy, Roma and Traveller communities, this project hopes to bring about social change and empower young gender-diverse GRT people in Britain today.