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Stephenson Brooks Whitestone, PhD



Stephenson (Ph.D., anticipated 2022) is a qualitative researcher examining the outcomes and implications associated with discrimination after death. Broadly, her research examines the processes through which agents associated with the dominant culture become empowered to enact the identities of marginalized individuals after they die. Her work chronicles efforts by both individuals and institutions to distort, diminish, and/or disappear the identities of the marginalized dead in public memorial expressions. Specifically, Stephenson focuses on the actions of families who de-transition their transgender loved ones after their deaths, and on the devastating impact those actions have on the broader transgender community. The genesis of this research thread began long before Stephenson ever entertained the idea of attending grad school. She attended several transgender memorials – and was struck by the arbitrary nature with which the identities of the deceased were assigned.

I don’t believe in destiny or fate, yet I believe that I was always meant to be a California girl. It sounds like a cliche, but I truly find solace in long, peaceful walks on an empty beach. I also sincerely enjoy teaching. I have learned so much from my students – and I look forward to learning so much more.

Position statement: 

"As lead archivist, I have led a small group of volunteers in searching the programs of previous NCA conferences. The purpose of this ongoing task is to document the substantial volume of death-related and EOL-focused papers and panels presented at NCA each year. The database we are creating provides ample verification of the considerable work being done in the area of EOL/Death in the Communication discipline, and provides compelling evidence for the foundation of an EOL/Death Scholars Division at NCA."

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