NSU’s Professor Meister Researching to aid LGBT+ Community

At left: Dr. Meister received the 2019 Mavis Booze Mentoring Award from the South Dakota Counseling Association. Pictured left to right: Front row: Emily Van Gerpen, Sierra Thomas, Meister, Allison Oxner. Back row: Andrea Garlick, Dr. Danielson, Kirsten Krueger, Danielle Johnson, Ashley Larson, Jenny Larson, Amanda Bowker.

ABERDEEN, S.D. – NSU’s Assistant Professor of Counselor Education, Dr. Karyl Meister, is lending a helping hand to the LGBT+ community by researching methods that would aid transgender individuals, as well as exploring the relationship between the ancient Amazon warrior women and archetypes of modern-day lesbians.

Meister’s project for the transgender community is based off of her dissertation, and is attempting to create a valid and reliable instrument that would aid people who are on the fence in terms of whether to have any gender confirming alterations done to their body.

“The process works to place them in one of eight gender categories, each being somewhere along the transgender-cisgender spectrum and fitting different characteristics that a person can relate to in the three areas mentioned below,” said Meister. “It's based on a 3D model of gender identity that encompasses what the person thinks and feels related to that male or female sex assigned at birth, and how they play out the roles typically associated with being male or female.”

According to Meister’s research, anywhere from two to 30 percent of people who undergo gender confirming surgeries regret some or all of the changes that they made.

“If helping classify them a bit more concretely can help them make a better decision related to those surgeries, it would cut down on that regret,” Meister said. “Many people think that the only way to be transgender is to go ‘all the way’ with all the surgeries and end up unhappy as a result.  Catching them before they have surgeries and having discussions about alternatives and options will, hopefully, result in happier people.”

Meister’s other project, “Amazon Warrior Women as the Archetype of Modern-Day Lesbians” is a theoretical piece comparing lesbians to the legend of the ancient Amazon warrior-women tribe. 

“This project explores some commonalities between the two communities to see exactly how much lesbians utilize and relate to the Amazons,” she said. “We’ve interviewed a variety of lesbians from ages 18 to 70 to see what they have to say about the connection between lesbians and Amazons.”

Meister’s research suggests that older lesbians identify much more with the Amazon legend as a whole, including a variety of symbols such as the labrys, a Greek double sided axe traditionally wielded by female divinities in lore and an adopted icon of the lesbian community.

“Younger lesbians, on the other hand, identify less with the Amazon legend,” said Meister, “but more so with Wonder Woman, a modern interpretation of an Amazon.”

Meister is also currently working on a manuscript titled “Mandatory Reporting and the Retaliation Factor,” which covers the retaliation that counselors, psychologists, physicians, teachers, etc., can face when reporting child abuse despite the fact that they are mandated by law to report it.

The final project Meister is working on is Mental Health Providers' Perceptions of Police with Drs. Courtney Waid-Lindberg and Jeffrey Howard. 

“We obtained a sample of mental health providers from a seven-state region surrounding and including South Dakota and asked them about their experiences with police, including communication, physicality with clients of mental health providers, and overall experiences.”

Dr. Karyl Meister joined Northern's faculty in fall 2014. She received her Ph.D. in counseling education from the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, Ark., in 2012; M.S. in community counseling from South Dakota State University West River Graduate Center, Rapid City, S.D., in 2007; and B.S. in psychology from Black Hills State University, Spearfish, S.D., in 2004. At NSU, she is co-advisor of the LGBT+ club on campus.

About Northern State University

Northern State University is a regional university that offers outstanding academics and exceptional extracurricular activities at an affordable price on a safe, welcoming campus. Northern State recently announced its Educational Impact Campaign, with a goal of raising $55 million for a new South Dakota School for the Blind and Visually Impaired, new athletic and recreation fields, and an on-campus regional sports complex. Once the campaign is complete, NSU will be the recipient of more than $100 million in privately funded building projects and scholarships within a decade. To learn more, visit NSU Admissions.