Sarah Gzesh, MSW
Mentorship for trans/gender expansive and LGBIA+ youth
Continuum of agency between consensual sex work and sexual exploitation
Youth system involvement and factors impacting transitions to adulthood
Participatory Action Research
Sarah E. Gzesh, MSW has engaged in direct practice with marginalized young people for over a decade, as both an educator and therapist. After earning a Master of Social Work from Columbia University, they worked as a community-based therapist in the Bay Area of California, supporting system-involved youth experiencing sexual exploitation, substance use, and housing instability. Gzesh is now pursuing a PhD in Social Welfare at Penn’s School of Social Policy and Practice, and is a Fellow in Leadership Education and Adolescent Health (LEAH) at Children’s Hospital of Pennsylvania.
Gzesh is passionate about improving psychosocial and health outcomes for sexual/gender minority youth, by exploring how identity-based supports like chosen families can provide corrective experiences for past attachment ruptures, embodied oppression, and complex trauma. They employ critical mixed methods to explore the relationship between history of victimization, future orientation, and risk-related behaviors, with an emphasis on healing-centered harm reduction. Gzesh’s goal is to expand conceptualization of family systems to encompass non-biological kinship, thereby harnessing cultural wealth embedded in queer communities for research-informed practice and practice-informed research.
Department(s)Current PhD Students