Meet the Team

A photograph of Ben Barry taken by Akash Rai. He gazes off to the right hand side of the photograph and he has a slight smile on his face. He has short brown hair with a skin fade on the sides, dark brown eyes and white skin with a shortly trimmed brown beard. He wears a black leather vest that has shiny silver spikes on the shoulders, the collar and the lapel over a black t-shirt.

BEN BARRY

HE/HIM
PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR

Cripping Masculinity is a project that I’ve been dreaming about bringing into the world for a long time. As a queer, disability-identified fashion educator, researcher and activist with low vision, I’m passionate about exploring the ways in which disability introduces new design and aesthetic possibilities into the fashion system and society. Through Cripping Masculinity, I’m excited to work together with Disability, Deaf and Mad identified men and transmasculine people to mobilize social change in fashion and beyond. I’m Chair and Associate Professor of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion in the School of Fashion at Ryerson University. My teaching and research seeks to decolonize the fashion system and centre disability justice, fat liberation, and queer futures. I also identify as a white settler whose grandparents escaped Nazi Germany. I work in solidarity to advance intersectional disability justice while recognizing the limits of my ability to hold and heal those with different lived experiences from mine. I’m a member of the Fashion Industry Advisory Panel for the City of Toronto and a juror for the Canadian Arts and Fashion Awards. Whether I’m teaching a fashion class or playing with my dog Apple, I love wearing clothes that sparkle and shine. I graduated from the University of Toronto with an undergraduate degree in Gender Studies and from Cambridge University with a Master’s and PhD in Management. 

A PHOTO OF BEN BARRY

MEGAN STRICKFADEN

SHE/HER
CO-INVESTIGATOR

I am a design anthropologist, researcher, and educator who strives to combine practice with research. The Cripping Masculinity project brings together my work as a design consultant and university professor with my personal life where I have lived disability from many perspectives on various continents. I am a migrant having lived in seven countries. Currently, I make my home in Edmonton at the Department of Human Ecology at the University of Alberta (Canada) and spend time as an adjunct professor in the Faculty of Architecture and Arts at Hasselt University (Belgium), the School of Design at the Queensland University of Technology (QUT) Brisbane (Australia), and the College of Fashion and Design at Donghua University (China). Across thirty years designing, researching, and teaching I have produced  hundreds of creative and scholarly outcomes including patents, designed products, exhibitions, and films. My work covers topics that brings together Critical Disability Studies with Design Studies and Material Culture often resulting in specialized product design. Notable projects include outdoor winter protective clothing for the seated client, wayfinding interventions for transportation systems for persons who are visually impaired and blind, and congregate living spaces for persons with dementia.

A PHOTO OF MEGAN STRICKFADEN

Photo credit: Kayla Besse
Image description: Eliza is a white, cis-gendered, noticeably disabled woman. She has brown short hair and in this photo, she is wearing a grey top, sitting behind a laptop, holding a microphone, and she is smiling.

ELIZA CHANDLER

SHE/HER
COLLABORATOR

Eliza Chandler is an Assistant Professor in the School of Disability Studies at Ryerson University. Previous to this role, she was the Artistic Director of Tangled Art + Disability, a disability arts organization in Toronto, Canada. Chandler’s teaching and research bring together disability arts, disability studies, and activism. This includes her co-directorship of Bodies in Translation: Activist Art, Technology, and Access to Life, a SSHRC-funded partnership grant dedicated to the cultivation of disability arts in Canada. Chandler sits on the Board of Directors of the Ontario Arts Council and is a practicing curator.

A PHOTO OF ELIZA CHANDLER

A photograph of Michel Ghanem from the torso up, taken by Calla Evans. He is looking neutrally at the camera with a slight smile and his arms to his sides. Michel has short brown hair combed back and trimmed facial hair, and small brown eyes. He is of fair skin with olive undertones. He wears a blue button-down, collared shirt which is covered by a small, white, floral pattern. He is standing against a blurry green natural background, with a pink flower out of focus in the foreground.

MICHEL GHANEM

HE/HIM
RESEARCH ASSISTANT

I decided to pursue a PhD in Communication & Culture at Ryerson University because I wanted to continue engaging with Mad Studies in Toronto, an emerging field rooted in anti-psychiatry and Mad liberation. I identify as Mad, queer, and Lebanese French-Canadian. During my Master of Arts in Fashion at Ryerson, I began researching how fashion and costume design is a tool of identity-construction on television, and continue to write about this intersection and advocate for systemic shifts. My entry to academe was through a Bachelor of Arts in Art History at the University of Victoria, though at the time I thought I might end up as a journalist through my freelance writing. My role in Cripping Masculinity allows me to expand my understanding of the experiences of Disabled, Deaf, and Mad-identified folks in relation to masculinity and fashion. My own experience of dress has cycled through many eras, from a closeted awkward teenager hiding in oversized plaid and baggy jeans, to long flowy cardigans and skinny jeans, and now to cozy minimal sweaters and drawstring pants. Overall, I’m embracing my journey of learning and unlearning, and making sure that at the end of each day, there’s always time to put on an episode and cuddle with my cat Bramble.

A PHOTO OF MICHEL GHANEM

A photograph of Kristina McMullin taken by Michelle Peek of Bodies in Translation. She looks into the camera with a neutral, albeit a bit tired, look on her face. She has short dyed blond hair and dark brown eyebrows and eyes which contrast against her fair skin. She wears a black and white leopard blazer over a black shirt with white all caps lettering. Some of the lettering is obstructed, but the slogan reads ‘The Future Is Accessible’. Kristina stands apart from the out of focus background.

KRISTINA MCMULLIN

SHE/HER
MA RESEARCH ASSISTANT

As an arts administrator (and academic in training) with an activist’s heart, I’ve approached the Cripping Masculinity project with a singular blend of academic, professional, and lived experience. After graduating from Ryerson with a bachelor’s degree in Fashion Communications, I spent the first few years of my career trying to discover how I could leverage my unique education to enact social change. In late 2016, I joined the team at Tangled Art + Disability, a non-profit arts organization that operates Tangled Art Gallery – Canada’s first access-centred Disability Arts gallery. It was through this work that I discovered how I could pair my lived experience of disability with my creative communications degree to be an agent of meaningful social change. Cripping Masculinity offers my activist heart a radical opportunity to further my endeavours to leverage my lived, academic, and professional experiences to create lasting and meaningful social change.

A PHOTO OF KRISTINA MCMULLIN

A Photo of Phillipa. She is a white woman with light brunette hair and blue eyes. She wears a green buttoned jacket and a black turtle neck top. She looks at the camera with a serious gaze while in front of a wood panelled wall.

Philippa Nesbit

SHE/HER
PHD RESEARCH ASSISTANT

I am a PhD student in Communication & Culture at Ryerson University and hold a BA in Sociology and Critical Studies in Sexuality from UBC, and an MA in Fashion Studies from Parsons. I have always approached my work with a passion for social justice, advocacy and representation. My previous research centred the voices of transgender and non-binary identified models to uncover the multifaceted experiences of the contemporary global fashion industry. My PhD research expands on the social implications of the representation of disabled folks through fashion media, and explores fashion as a tool for social change.

Through Cripping Masculinity, I hope to engage in the advancement of intersectional disability justice while recognizing my own embodiment limits my ability to understand the lived experiences of others. Through this work, I hope to leverage my academic experience and professional experience in the fashion industry toward meaningful and long-lasting change. 

A PHOTO OF PHILIPPA NESBIT

Image Description: A photograph of Alexis hugging their black and tan shiba inu, Satomi, sitting on an emerald green velvet couch. A striped woven blanket is draped along the back of the couch. The image captures Alexis’ full sitting body. Satomi is on her hind legs, balancing on one of Alexis’ legs, and Satomi’s underbelly is showing. Alexis is smiling at the camera with their face squished up against Satomi’s face. Satomi’s tan paws resting on Alexis’ wrapped arms. Alexis has wavy, mid-length brown hair that collects messily along her shrugged shoulders. Their skin is an almond tone. Alexis is wearing a knitted light beige sweater, green pants, and black boots.

Alexis De Villa

SHE/THEY
MA RESEARCH ASSISTANT

I am a queer, mad-identified, second-generation pilipinx immigrant and settler occupying the land of the Cree, Saulteaux, Nakota Sioux, Blackfoot, Métis, Iroquois, Dene, Ojibway / Saulteaux / Anishinaabe, Tsuutʼina, Inuit, and many others. My pronouns are She and They to represent my experiences as a POC woman, while simultaneously rejecting the gender binary. My research and role with Cripping Masculinity is informed by a blend of activism through practice, self-knowing, lived experience, and education. Often operating in the white-space that is academia, my approach to research is that knowledge is not only discovered through the process but collaboratively deconstructed to ensure meaningful and intersectional work.

A PHOTO OF ALEXIS DE VILLA

Jonathan Dumitra

HE/HIM
RESEARCH ASSISTANT

I am an Austrian-Romanian design student at Ryerson. It is my firm belief that fashion is for everyone, and we all deserve to feel and look our best in the clothing we wear. I want to create clothing that is open and accessible to any size, shape, gender, and style. I’m excited to join the Cripping Masculinity team because I want to further expand my design knowledge, and help brighten the spark of systemic change that is growing in our industry. My clothing has no gender, and the only requirement for wearing something I create, is that you feel amazing in it!

I spend my spare time going roller skating, cooking up a storm in the kitchen, and creating enticing magical adventures for my weekly game of Dungeons & Dragons. 

A PHOTO OF JONATHAN DUMITRA

DREW GURZA

HE/THEY
COMMUNITY CONSULTANT

Drew Gurza is an award winning Disability Awareness Consultant and the Chief Disability Officer and Co-founder of Handi, a sex toy company that puts pleasure within reach for disabled people.  Drew uses he/they pronouns and identifies proudly as disabled.  Their work has been featured on BBC, CBC, Daily Xtra, Gay Times UK, Huffington Post, The Advocate, Everyday Feminism, Mashable, Out.com, and several anthologies.  He was the subject of an award winning National Film Board of Canada Documentary “Picture This”.  Drew has guested on a number of podcasts including Dan Savage’s Savage Love and Cameron Esposito’s Queery. He has spoken all over the world on sex, disability and what it means to be a Queer Cripple.

He is also the host of Disability After Dark: The Podcast Shining a Bright Light on Disability Stories  which was nominated for a Canadian Podcast Award, a Queerty Award and was chosen as an Honoree at the 2020 Webby Awards. The show is available on all platforms. Drew is also the creator of the viral hashtag #DisabledPeopleAreHot.    You can find out more about Drew by going to www.DrewGurza.com and connecting via social media @DrewGurza.

A PHOTO OF DREW GURZA

Rana is wearing a white t shirt and a blue jean jacket. She is wearing her hair curly and sitting outside.

RANA AWADALLAH

SHE/HER
ILLUSTRATOR

I, Rana Awadallah, am a 24 year old disabled independent artist. I create art mostly about chronic illness and mental health through digital medium. My mission is to spread awareness of mental health and chronic illness. To let others know that they aren’t alone, to inspire people to embrace their truth, to get people talking about what matters. I am the creator of my own clothing collection on Represent.com, The Metaphysical Collection, which is wearable artwork spreading the same message.  You can follow me on Instagram at rana2.0 for more art and to book commissions 

A PHOTO OF RANA AWADALLAH

A photo of Aankshika Bheem taken by Sasha Codrington. Aankshika is wearing a leather jacket and a black t-shirt. She has a necklace on and is wearing her hair straight. She is in focus in front of a plain background.

AANKSHIKA BHEEM

SHE/HER
DESIGN INTERN

As a Fashion Communication student at Ryerson, my interest in the Cripping Masculinity project stems from a desire to be a part of a team exploring how to create a meaningful system of change. A system with the ability to engage and educate. At Ryerson, I seek out how my chosen mediums of graphic design and illustration can be used to participate in conversations seeking out an equitable industry. My visual arts background fuels all of my work which often explores how gender and the body is perceived and explored in fashion, supplemented with my interest in philosophy. For the past three years I have been an art instructor working with kids and developing an interest in how creativity is perceived and explored. The Cripping Masculinity project provides me with an opportunity to be a part of a team designing a system that can facilitate change within this industry, and contribute to a larger conversation on equitable practices in art and design.

A PHOTO OF AANKSHIKA BHEEM

Accessibility