Ian Khara Ellasante

Assistant Professor of Gender and Sexuality Studies


Gender and Sexuality Studies

Pettengill Hall, Room 211




Ian-Khara Ellasante (they/them) is an Assistant Professor of Gender and Sexuality Studies. They are a cultural studies theorist whose current research engages the peoplehoood matrix–a core theoretical construct developed by Indigenous scholars–to examine the persistence of Indigenous and Black cultural identities within the oppressive milieu of settler colonialism and its associated and interlocking regimes: patriarchy, white supremacy, and anti-Blackness. In this context, Professor Ellasante examines the history and reclamation of Indigenous extra-binary gender systems and Two-Spirit traditions, Black and Indigenous feminisms, and the dynamic resistance inherent in Black and Indigenous trans and queer cultures. As a community-based participatory researcher, they have worked alongside and on behalf of LGBTQ+ and Two-Spirit youth communities for over a decade to increase access to stable housing and affirming learning environments.

Professor Ellasante is also a poet. In their ongoing “Diana” series, Diana (i.e., one of many names for a goddess of the moon, of womanhood, of the hunt) serves as an ambiguous proxy, representing both the narrator’s cherished womanhood and their changing relationship to their womanhood as a trans/nonbinary person. In these poems, Diana also represents a woman who, bearing witness to these social and physical transitions, is changing in her relationship to the narrator. These poems integrate creative production with an intervention in the field of transgender studies by expanding notions of what trans* is and what trans* can do; what gender and identity can be, in ways that are not just possible, but that are actual.

Pronouns: they/them

Website: iankharaellasante.com


  • FYS 523: Poetry and Resistance Beyond the Gender Binary
  • AF/GS 201: Race, Ethnicity, and Feminist Thought
  • GSS 205: Queer Indigenous Studies
  • GSS 206: Gender Traditions and Transformations in the Americas
  • GSS 208: Transgender Studies
  • GSSS15: Queer and Trans Reproductive Justice
  • INDS 250: Interdisciplinary Studies: Methods and Modes of Inquiry
  • GSS 312: Transgender Narratives
  • GSS 313: Gender in American Indian Literature


Selected Publications

  • 2022: When language fails and I exist. Pipe Wrench Magazine 7.
  • 2021: Radical sovereignty, rhetorical borders, and the everyday decolonial praxis of Indigenous peoplehood and Two-Spirit Reclamation.  Journal of Ethnic and Racial Studies 44. Published Open Access, available here.
  • 2020: Dear Trans Studies, Can you do love? Transgender Studies Quarterly 7(3), 421-426.
  • 2017: Pathways into and out of homelessness for LGBTQ2S youth. In A. Abramovich & J. Shelton (Eds.) Where Am I Going to Go? Intersectional Approaches to Ending LGBTQ2S Youth Homelessness in Canada & the U.S. (49-61). Toronto: Canadian Observatory on Homelessness. (with Wheeler, C. & Price, C.)
  • 2016: iTEAM: Outcomes of an affirming system of care serving LGBTQ youth experiencing homelessness. Journal of Contemporary Social Services Families in Society 97(3), 181-190. (with Powell, C., Korchmaros, J.D., Haverly, K., & Stevens, S.)


Selected Poetry Publications

  • “pale stones: a triptych,” in Writing the Land: Maine from NatureCulture, September 2022.
  • “turn to sugar Diana” and “on forgetting Diana when i cannot see the moon,” in Nat. Brut Literary Magazine, Fall 2021.
  • “let me tell you: Diana” and “are you kidding me Diana,” in We Want It All: An Anthology of Radical Trans Poetics from Nightboat Books, November 2020. Lambda Literary Awards Finalist
  • “grandfather: a dialect of water,” New Millennium Writings, July 2020. Winner of the 49th New Millennium Award for Poetry
  • “Diana: impending,” The Feminist Wire, February 2016
  • “a dialect of water,” “earth, water, and what is built,” and “pale grandfathers,” Hinchas de Poesia 12, April 2014
  • “Three Poems by Ian Ellasante,” The Feminist Wire, June 2013
  • “hinge: tongue | poems and poetics,” The Volta: Evening Will Come, December 2012


Selected Invited Talks and Presentations

  • “Toward the Empty Center: Journeys of Cultural Liminality and Elusive Authenticity,” Colby College, Boundaries and Margins Lecture Series, November 2020
  • “Authentic and Affirming Support for LGBTQ+ Students of Color,” Moberly Area Community College Workshop, October 2020
  • “Love and liberation,” Keynote Address, LGBTQ+ Rainbow Graduation, University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ, May 2019
  • “Intersectionality: Identity and advocacy at the crossroads,” Keynote Addresss, Washington & Jefferson College, Washington, PA, November 2018
  • “Sovereignty and story: Shaping LGBTQ, Two Spirit, and African Native American identities,” Indigenous People’s Day Conference, Kansas State University, Manhattan, KS, October 2017
  • “Intentional space: Creating safe and affirming environments for LGBTQ young people,” National Conference on Ending Homelessness, Washington, DC, July 2017
  • “System-level innovations to more effectively address the youth homelessness crisis,” National Symposium on Solutions to End Youth Homelessness, New York, NY, June 2017
  • “Racial equity and homelessness” (with M. Dones), SPARC: Supporting Partnerships for Anti-Racist Communities, an initiative of Center for Social Innovation, March 2017
  • “The value of advocacy for LGBTQ youth of color,” Black Life Matters Conference, University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ, January 2015


Selected Conference Presentations

  • “Strengths-based collaboration with LGBTQ+ young people of color,” PFLAG National Convention, Kansas City, MO, October 2019
  • “Black and Indigenous peoplehood, solidarity, and queer persistence,” Association for Jotería Arts, Activism and Scholarship (AJAAS) Conference, Portland State University, Portland, OR, October 2019
  • “Settler-colonial biopolitics meets Indigenous peoplehood and persistence: Sexualities and genders,” Sexuality and Borders Symposium, New York University, New York, NY, April 2019
  • “Re-Storying and re-naming: Two Spirit healing and resistance in the enduring face of settler colonialism,” American Indian Studies Association Conference, Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ, February 2018
  • “In whose image: Trans and genderqueer writers on magic, spirituality, and (the bodies of) G—d” (with TC Tolbert, R. Aoki, CA Conrad, & J. Ladin), Association of Writers and Writing Programs Conference, Los Angeles, CA, April 2016
  • “Transitional age LGBTQ young adults: Creating a system of care to support resilience and empowerment,” Annual Conference on Integrated Healthcare, Arizona State University, Phoenix, AZ, March 2016
  • “All genders celebrated: Programming strategies to affirm and empower transgender and genderqueer youth,” Transgender Spectrum Conference, University of Missouri, St. Louis, MO, November 2015