Associate Professor Sonja J Ellis

Sonja Ellis

Qualifications: BSocSc, MSocSc (Waikato), PhD (Loughborough), 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. 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 Australia where I worked for AIPC and then the Australian Catholic University in Brisbane. I returned to Aotearoa New Zealand at the end of 2017 to take up my current post as Associate Professor in Human Development.

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 span feminist and critical social psychology with a particular focus on the mental health and wellbeing of those from marginalised groups. I have published widely in the field of LGBTIQ psychology; most recently, in the area of wellbeing and suicide risk in trans/gender-diverse persons. My current research projects include collaborative studies on social connectedness and suicide risk in trans/gender-diverse people in Australasia; and a study exploring the sexual health education needs of teenagers in Aotearoa New Zealand.

Recent Publications

  • McNeil, J., Ellis, S. J., & Eccles, F. (2017). Suicide in trans populations: A systematic review of prevalence and correlates. Psychology of Sexual Orientation and Gender Diversity, 4(3), 341-353.

  • Abbott, K., Ellis, S. J., & Abbott, R. (2016). ‘ We’ve got a lack of family values ’: an examination of how teachers formulate and justify their approach to teaching sex and relationships education. Sex Education, 16(6), 678-691. doi:10.1080/14681811.2016.1169398

  • Bailey, L., McNeil, J., & Ellis, S. J. (2016). ‘I worry that they’ll pick on someone I care about’: Trans people’s perceptions of the British mass media and its impact on their mental health and well-being. In A. Dhonest, B. Eeckhout, & L. Szulc (Eds.), LGBTQs, Media and Culture in Europe (pp. 98-115). New York: Taylor & Francis.

  • Ellis, S. J., Bailey, L., & McNeil, J. (2016). Transphobic victimisation and perceptions of future risk: a large-scale study of the experiences of trans people in the UK. Psychology & Sexuality, 7(3), 211-224. doi:10.1080/19419899.2016.1181669

Find more research publications by Sonja Ellis


Human Development; Psychology; Women and Gender Studies

LGBTIQ Psychology

Contact Details

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