Gemma is a Senior Lecturer in Psychology. She obtained a First Class BSc in Psychology (2001) and PhD in Ingestive Behaviour (part-time, 2006) from Loughborough University, before working and living overseas. Upon returning to the UK, Gemma worked as a Research Associate at Nottingham University (2009) before re-joining Loughborough University as a part-time Research Associate in 2011. After a number of part-time research and teaching positions alongside childcare, Gemma became a full-time Lecturer in Psychology in 2015 and was promoted to Senior Lecturer in 2020. Gemma lectures on the Loughborough Psychology undergraduate degree programmes where she leads The Psychology of Eating Behaviour module and the final year dissertation module, as well as teaching on modules relating to parenting and children’s socialisation and clinical psychology. Gemma supervises undergraduate and postgraduate (PhD) students’ research projects and is the founder and lead of the Gender and Sport mini-CDT; a group of 6 multi-disciplinary PhD research projects exploring the critical issue of gender identity in sport.
Gemma has previously held the roles of Placements Co-ordinator (2016 - 2018) and Admissions Tutor (2017– 2020) and was a Warden of Cayley Hall of Residence (2014 – 2017). She is also a founding member of the Maia Network – Loughborough University’s women’s network established in 2020.
Gemma’s research activities are broad but are all linked by a focus on gender and the impact of gender on everyday psychological functioning, as well as clinical pathology. Specifically, her research focuses include body image and the impact on eating behaviour and psychopathology; post-partum and maternal wellbeing; sexuality, gender identity and mental wellbeing; transgender and non-binary participation in sport and physical activity.
Gemma has been invited to give the following presentations at large, international conferences:
- Using qualitative methods to explore gender (dis)affirmation in trans youth. Society for Qualitative Inquiry in Psychology. June 2019. Boston, USA.
- Eating disorders and body image in the LGBTQ+ population: What are the facts?10th Austrian meeting Eating Disorders, 2020. Vienna, Austria. (conference cancelled due to COVID-19)
- The psychology and physiology of sex and gender boundaries in sport and exercise. BASES 2020. Leicester, England.
- LGBTQ+ related factors to consider for Eating Disorder Specialists. Eating Disorders International Conference 2021. January 2021. Glasgow, Scotland.
Gemma also has a strong passion for understanding and encouraging healthy child feeding practices. She is co-creator of the Child Feeding Guide - a website and web app for parents, health professionals, and childcare staff, disseminated by the NHS and available as CPD-UK accredited online training courses, as well as the Feeding A Baby educational intervention for young mums and teens.
Selected recent research projects and sources of funding
Transgender athletes and participation in sport: Effects of hormonal intervention on cardiovascular and muscular biomarkers of athletic performance and mental wellbeing. Funded by theInternational Olympic Committee Medical and Scientific Research Fund (awarded 2019; postponed to 2021 due to COVID-19). Gemma Witcomb (PI), Emma ODonnell, Richard Blagrove, Liz Akam (Co-Is).
Irish Research Council Gender Strategy and Action Plan Review. Funded by the Irish Research Council. June 2020. Eugenie Hunsicker (Director; Co-PI), Andrew Graves (Director; Co-PI), Gemma L. Witcomb (Senior Consultant; Co-I), Andy Rowell (Senior Consultant; Co-I).
Transitions; A festival of ideas. Funded by the Institute of Advanced Studies, Loughborough University. 2020/2021. Co-Leads: Ines Varela-Silva, Gemma Witcomb, Rachael Grew, Hilary Robinson.
Motivated not manipulated: Using psychoeducation to increase mothers' underlying motivation to breastfeed. Funded by The British Academy. 2014. Emma Haycraft and Gemma Witcomb.
- Board of Editors for the International Journal of Transgender Health (Impact Factor 2020 = 3.369).
- Honorary researcher with the Nottingham Centre for Transgender Health.
- PhD external examiner at various UK and overseas institutions, including: The University of Nottingham, UK; La Trobe University, Australia; University of Coimbra, Portugal.
- Guest lecturer on the University of Surrey MSc in Nutritional Medicine. Module 6: Nutritional Aspects of Pregnancy, Infancy and Childhood. June 2019.
- Regular reviewer for a wide range of academic journals including: LGBT Health; Frontiers; Journal of Public Health; International Journal of Transgender Heath; Appetite; Eating Behaviors; European Eating Disorders Review; International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity; PlosOne; Pediatrics; International Journal of Eating Disorders.
- Invited speaker at various UK schools as part of the Enrichment programmes.
- Invited guest of honour speaker on gender equality at Wisbech Grammar School Speech Day (July 2019).
- Regular contributor to television, radio and online media, including:
- Prime time BBC1 documentary The Trans Athlete Debate with Martina Navratilova (1.3 million viewers, May 2019)
- BBC Breakfast News; live studio interview
- Sky Sports and BBC World News; live video link interviews
- Sky Sports (Sports Media LGBT+) and Wall Street Journal; print interviews
- ITV Central News; pre-recorded short research pieces.
- Live radio: BBC World News, BBC Radio Leicester, Gem 106 radio.
- The Conversation, including Barbie at 60; instrument of female oppression or positive influence? top read article from Loughborough University in 2019 (242,144 reads) and 5th top read article since launch.
- Guest blogs for various parenting and nutrition websites and publications (e.g., Early Years Childcare Magazine, Community Practitioner, Pediatrics for Parents)
Institute of Leadership and Management Level 3 (2019)
Aurora Women in HE Leadership programme (2019-2020)
Post Graduate Certificate in Academic Practice (2017)
Certified Usability Specialist. Human Factors International, Mumbai, India. (2006)
Member of the Women in Higher Education Network (2020-)
Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (2017-)
Member of the World Professional Association for Transgender Health (2017-)
Member of the British Association of Gender Identity Specialists (2017-)
Chartered Psychologist, British Psychological Society (2015 -)
Book: Witcomb, G.L. & Peel, E. (Eds.). Gender Diversity and Sport:Interdisciplinary Perspectives on Increasing Inclusivity.Gender and Sexualities in Psychology Series, Routledge. Coming in 2021.
Gemma has authored over 40 peer-reviewed publications. Selected examples include:
Aldridge, Z., Patel, S., Guo, B., Nixon, E., Bouman, W.P., Witcomb, G.L., & Arcelus, J. (under review). The effect of 18 months of gender affirming hormone treatment on depression and anxiety symptoms in transgender people: A prospective study. Journal of Andrology.
Knott-Fayle, G., Peel, E., & Witcomb, G.L. (under review). (Anti-)Feminism and cisgenderism in sports media. Feminist Media Studies.
Harper, J., ODonnell, E., Khorashad, B.S., McDermott, H., & Witcomb, G.L. (under review). Transgender women’s athletic potential: A systematic review of the effects of hormone transition on body composition, muscle strength, and haemoglobin. British Journal of Sports Medicine.
McLeod, C. J., James, L. J., & Witcomb, G. L. (in press, 2020). Eating rate and food intake are reduced when a food is presented in an ‘unusual’ meal context. Appetite.
Haycraft, E., Witcomb, G. L. & Farrow, C. (in press, 2020). The Child Feeding Guide: A digital health intervention for reducing controlling child feeding practices and maternal anxiety over time. Nutrition Bulletin. DOI: 10.1111/nbu.12445
McLeod, C., James, L., Brunstrom, J., & Witcomb, G.L. (2020). The influence of expected satiety on portion size selection are reduced when food is presented in an ‘unusual’ meal context. Appetite, 147, 104550. DOI: 10.1016/j.appet.2019.104550
Barutcu, A., Taylor, S., McLeod, C. J., Witcomb, G. L., & James, L. J. (2020). Planned aerobic exercise increases energy intake at the preceding meal. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, 52(4), 968-975. DOI: 10.1249/MSS.0000000000002199
Witcomb, G. L., Brophy, H., & McDermott, H. (2019). More than meets the eye: A photo-elicitation study of gender (dis)affirmation in seven gender non-conforming university students. Psychology, 10(12), 1599-1614. DOI: 10.4236/psych.2019.1012105
Witcomb, G. L., Claes, L., Bouman, W. P., Nixon, E., Motmans, J., & Arcelus, J. (2019). Experiences and psychological wellbeing outcomes associated with bullying in treatment-seeking transgender and gender-diverse youth. LGBT health, 6(5), 216-226. DOI: 10.1089/lgbt.2018.0179
Witcomb, G.L. & Harding, Z.(2018).An exercise in happiness: Physical activity choices and psychological wellbeing in post-partum mothers. Archives of Sports Medicine, 2(2), 109-115.
Witcomb, G.L., Bouman, W.P., Claes, L., Brewin, N., Crawford, J.R., & Arcelus, J. (2018). Levels of depression in transgender people accessing clinical services: A large matched control study. Journal of Affective Disorders, 235, 308-315. DOI: 10.1016/j.jad.2018.02.051
Thorne, N., Witcomb, G.L., Nieder,T.O., & Arcelus, J. (2018). A comparison of mental health symptomatology and levels of social support in young treatment seeking transgender people who identify as binary and non-binary. International Journal of Transgenderism. DOI: 10.1080/15532739.2018.1452660
Schalla, S.C., Witcomb, G.L., & Haycraft, E. (2017). Body shape and weight loss as motivators for breastfeeding initiation and continuation. International Journal of Environmental. Research and Public Health, 14(7), 754. DOI: 10.3390/ijerph14070754
Beek, T., Cohen-Kettenis, P., Bouman, W.P., de Vries, A., Steensma, T., Witcomb, G.L., Arcelus, J., Richards, C., & Kreukels, B. (2017). Gender Incongruence of Childhood: Clinical utility and stakeholder agreement with the World Health Organization’s proposed ICD-11 criteria. PLOS ONE, 12(1), e0168522. DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0168522
Bouman, W.P., Davey, A., Meyer, C., Witcomb, G.L., & Arcelus, J. (2016). Predictors of psychological well-being among treatment seeking transgender individuals. Sexual and Relationship Therapy, 31(3), 359-375. DOI: 10.1080/14681994.2016.1184754
Bouman, W.P., Claes, L., Marshall, E., Pinner, G.T., Longworth, J., Maddox, V., Witcomb, G.L., Jimenez-Murcia, S., Fernandez-Aranda, F., & Arcelus, J. (2016). Socio-demographic variables, clinical features and the role of pre-assessment cross-sex hormones in older trans people. Journal of Sexual Medicine, 13(4), 711-719. DOI: 10.1016/j.jsxm.2016.01.009
Arcelus.J., Claes, L., Witcomb, G.L., Marshall, E., & Bouman, W.P. (2016). Risk Factors for non-suicidal self-injury among trans youth. Journal of Sexual Medicine, 13(3), 402-412. DOI: 10.1016/j.jsxm.2016.01.003
Arcelus, J., Bouman, W.P., Van Den Noortgate, W., Claes, L., Witcomb, G.L., & Fernandez-Aranda, F. (2015). Systematic review and meta-analysis of prevalence studies in transsexualism. European Psychiatry, 30(6), 807-815. DOI: 10.1016/j.eurpsy.2015.04.005
Witcomb, G.L., Bouman, W.P., Brewin, N., Richards, C., Fernandez-Aranda, F., & Arcelus, J. (2015). Body image dissatisfaction and eating-related psychopathology in trans individuals: A matched control study. European Eating Disorders Review, 23(4), 287-293. DOI: 10.1002/erv.2362
Arcelus, J., Witcomb, G.L., & Mitchell, A. (2014). Prevalence of eating disorders amongst dancers: A meta-analysis. European Eating Disorders Review, 22(2), 92-101. DOI: 10.1002/erv.2271
Witcomb, G.L., Arcelus, J. & Chen, J. (2013). Thin-ideal idealisation across cultures: What can be learnt from Western prevention efforts? Shanghai Archives of Psychiatry, 25(6), 332-341.
Mitchell, G.L., Farrow, C., Haycraft, E., & Meyer, C. (2013). Parental influences on children’s eating behaviour and characteristics of successful parent-focussed interventions. Appetite, 60, 85-94.DOI: 10.1016/j.appet.2012.09.014