Transgender experiences have been front and center in the media lately. Articles are being written, laws are being changed, and lives are being recognized. Trans visibility is reaching a high point and that is something to celebrate. However, it is important to note that a lot of the attention has focused on the lives of privileged trans women, whether racially or financially. In reality, there is no single trans experience, and the experience of a privileged few is not the norm. Take a look at the portraits of trans women shown above. Obviously, identifying as transgender, even identifying as a trans woman, can mean a lot of different things. Conducting research on the needs of all transgender people, trans men, trans women, gender fluid trans people, of varied races, classes, and socioeconomic backgrounds, is an opportunity to diversify the conversation.
Additionally, the needs of transgender people, specifically with respect to health and social services, remains relatively understudied. A lot of research to date lumps LGBT populations together and has failed to recruit a large number of trans participants. Data is needed to develop and implement interventions that protect the health and well being of trans people, as a unique community with unique needs. Many of the key informants we interviewed, as well as the Transgender Response Team, echoed this view and support ethically conducted trans-focused, community-based research. Consider what several of these individuals had to say.
Data... I feel it's definitely gonna start off with researchers because you know, people need... they need examples, they need illustrations, they need a backdrop you know, so they're gonna need those numbers.
Data. That’s going to be a real issue, because one thing they keep doing is sticking the transgender population under MSM [men who have sex with men].
You know, if we can point to the number of trans people in the city that need services that will help. I mean data always speaks. Hopefully this project you’re working on will help.