Dr Sonja J Ellis

Sonja Ellis

Associate Professor in Human Development

Qualifications: BSocSc, MSocSc (Waikato), PhD (Loughborough), MPH (Charles Darwin), AFBPsS, SFHEA

About Sonja

I began my academic career here at The University of Waikato, where I completed my Bachelors and Masters degree majoring in Education Studies and worked briefly as Tutor. In 1997 I was offered a once-in-a-lifetime scholarship opportunity to study as a doctoral student at Loughborough University in the UK, where I had the privilege of working with some of the most famous academics in both Feminist Psychology and Critical Social Psychology. Shortly before graduating from my PhD, I secured a Lectureship in Psychology at Sheffield Hallam University (in the UK) where I worked for 15 years. In 2015, I relocated to Brisbane, Australia where I worked for a small higher education provider and then the Australian Catholic University. I returned to Aotearoa New Zealand at the end of 2017 to take up my current post as Associate Professor in Human Development. I have an established international reputation for my research and scholarship in the field of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans, Intersex, and Queer (LGBTIQ) Psychology. I have published widely in this field and with Damien Riggs (Flinder University) and Liz Peel (Loughborough University) am coauthor of the substantially revised and updated second edition of the textbook Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans, Intersex, and Queer Psychology: An Introduction (Cambridge University Press, 2020). I am currently undertaking research on the inclusion of sexuality and gender diversity in sexuality education and in the wider school context.

Papers Taught

Research Supervised

I am currently co-supervising the doctoral research programmes of the following students:

Kyle Tan - Mental Health of Trans and Gender Diverse New Zealanders:
Inequalities, Risk Factors, and Protective Factors.

Maggie Lyall - "It's all sorted now isn't it?": Gender discourses in New Zealand Early Education Sector

Hira Umair - The role of ECE teachers and parents in supporting resilience in young children from immigrant families in Early Childhood Education Settings in Pakistan.

Research Interests

My research interests focus primarily on social justice issues relevant to LGBTIQ people; but also on gender and sexuality in adolescence. Over the last decade I have engaged in a range of research projects including the UK Trans Mental Health Study; social connectedness and suicide risk in transgender people in Australasia with Damien Riggs (Flinders University) and Gareth Treharne (University of Otago); sexuality, sexual health, and knowledge of STIs among teenagers in New Zealand; and currently, the inclusion of sexuality and gender diversity within school-based sexuality education.

Recent Publications

  • Tan, K. K. H., Treharne, G. J., Ellis, S. J., Schmidt, J. M., & Veale, J. F. (2019). Gender minority stress: A critical review. Journal of Homosexuality, 1-19. doi:10.1080/00918369.2019.1591789 Open Access version:

  • Ellis, S., Riggs, D., & Peel, E. (2019). Lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, intersex, and queer psychology: An Introduction (2nd ed.). Cambridge, UK.: Cambridge University Press..

  • Hayfield, N., Terry, G., Clarke, V., & Ellis, S. (2019). Never say never?: Heterosexual, bisexual, and lesbian women's accounts of being childfree.. Psychology of Women Quarterly. Retrieved from

  • Bailey, L., McNeil, J., & Ellis, S. J. (2018). Mental health and well-being among older trans people. In A. King, K. Almack, Y. -T. Suen, & S. Westwood (Eds.), Older Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Trans People (pp. 44-60). NY: Routledge.

Find more research publications by Sonja Ellis


Health; Human Development; Psychology; Women and Gender Studies; Youth

LGBTIQ Psychology; social justice; sexuality and gender diversity

Contact Details

Room: TT5.05
Phone: +64 7 838 4466 xtn 6571