Category Archives: Transgender Research

The T in the CLE: TransPop: U.S. Transgender Population Health Survey

Soon there  will be the first nationwide population based study on the health of transgender populations in the US.  The study is a collaboration between the Williams Institute at UCLA, Fenway Institute, and Columbia University, and will examine the healthcare needs of trans people.  The study will also provide a better estimate of the size of transgender populations within the US.

I interviewed two of the study’s investigators a year ago.  We talked about the the study’s purpose and goals.

Jody Herman, PhD., Scholar of Public Policy, Williams Institute at UCLA School of Law, University of California, Los Angeles

Sari L. Reisner, Sc.D., Affiliated Research Scientist at The Fenway Institute, Fenway Health, Harvard University and The Fenway Institute, Fenway Health

For more information about Trans-Pop can go to their website.

http://www.transpop.org/

 

New Program Announcements for Gender and Sexual Minority Grants at NIH

These take the place of the program announcements for LGBTI Health Disparities that expired earlier this month.

PA-15-260
The Health of Sexual and Gender Minority (SGM) Populations (R15)
Application deadlines (3 times a year): Feb. 25, June 25, Oct. 25
FOA expires: Sept. 8, 2018
For more information about this FOA, see this link:
http://grants.nih.gov/grants/guide/pa-files/PA-15-260.html

PA-15-261
The Health of Sexual and Gender Minority (SGM) Populations (R01)
Application deadlines (3 times a year): Feb. 5, June 5, Oct. 5
FOA expires: Sept. 8, 2018
For more information about this FOA, see this link:
http://grants.nih.gov/grants/guide/pa-files/PA-15-261.html

PA-15-262
The Health of Sexual and Gender Minority (SGM) Populations (R03)
Application deadlines (3 times a year): Feb. 16, June 16, Oct. 16
FOA expires: Sept. 8, 2018
For more information about this FOA, see this link:
http://grants.nih.gov/grants/guide/pa-files/PA-15-262.html

PA-15-263
The Health of Sexual and Gender Minority (SGM) Populations (R21)
Application deadlines (3 times a year): Feb. 16, June 16, Oct. 16
FOA expires: Sept. 8, 2018
For more information about this FOA, see this link:
http://grants.nih.gov/grants/guide/pa-files/PA-15-263.html

Experts Release New Report Highlighting the Lack of Population-Based Data about Transgender People and Other Gender Minorities

Experts Release New Report Highlighting the Lack of Population-Based Data about Transgender People and Other Gender Minorities

Current survey practices fail to identify transgender and other gender minority respondents

Los Angeles—A new report released today by the Gender Identity in U.S. Surveillance (GenIUSS) group highlights the lack of survey measures to identify transgender and other gender minority respondents in most federally-supported population-based surveys. This groundbreaking report, entitled Best Practices for Asking Questions to Identify Transgender and Other Gender Minority Respondents on Population-Based Surveys, examines current practices in population-based surveys to see which surveys currently include measures to identify transgender and other gender minority respondents and offers expert recommendations for including sex and gender-related measures in population-based surveys.

The 2011 Institute of Medicine report on LGBT health specifically identified transgender health research as being a high priority.  However, without adequate measures to differentiate between trans and cis people such research would be very difficult to conduct.

The report offers best practices for identifying transgender and other gender minority respondents in population-based surveys. Among the best practices delineated in the report, the most effective is the “two-step” approach. This practice includes measures of self-reported assigned sex at birth (the birth recorded on one’s original birth certificate) and gender identity at the time of the survey. There are also recommendations on the best way to place and integrate sex and gender-related measures into population-based surveys in this report.

Among the federally supported population-based surveys that currently do not include measures to identify gender minority respondents are the American Community Survey, the Current Population Survey, and the National Health Interview Survey, and others.

The proposed guidelines are an important step in working toward the the development and inclusion of transgender health within national health studies.

The full report is available here: http://williamsinstitute.law.ucla.edu/wp-content/uploads/geniuss-report-sep-2014.pdf

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The Gender Identity in U.S. Surveillance (GenIUSS) Group is a multi-disciplinary and multi-institutional group of experts convened by the Williams Institute to increase population-based data about transgender people and other gender minorities by advancing the development of gender-related measures for population-based surveys, with a particular consideration for publicly-funded data collection efforts.

Testing Gender Identity and Expression Measures in a Trans and Cis Sample

These are the results to the study my colleagues and I conducted last year for the Williams Institute as part of their Gender Identity in U.S. Surveillance (GenIUSS) Project.  A PDF copy is available.

Abstract

Health research examining the disparities faced by gender minorities (transgender, transsexual, and other gender nonconforming individuals) has reached a stage where population based studies are needed in order to expand upon what smaller, community based studies have identified within the population.  One of the issues hindering the inclusion of measures needed to identify gender minority populations is the lack of measures that can effectively identify gender minority populations but can be understood by gender majority populations and provide data usable by researchers.  This study examined measures that can identify gender identity/gender transition and gender expression by conducting cognitive interviews with 50 people (25 gender minority, 25 gender majority).  The interviews asked people to read and answer the questions; afterwards they were interviewed about why they answered the way they did.  The gender identity/gender transition question was found to be understood by all participants and only requires small changes to improve its usage.  The researchers found gender minority and majority participants to have problems answering the gender expression questions.  The results show that the gender expression measures may not be effective when used in a population based study.    Researchers conclude that the gender identity/gender transition questions would be effective in quantitative studies and be useful in identifying health disparities among gender minority populations.

Examination of Gender Identity and Expression Measures within a Mid – West Sample: Report to the Williams Institute

#GLMA13 Poster Abstract: Questions to Identify Gender Diversity

Questions to Identify Gender Diversity

Emilia Lombardi, PhD; Swagata Banik, PhD; Jesper Zuber; and Katherine Mitchell
Baldwin Wallace University, Berea, Ohio

The study was supported with a grant by the Williams Institute, UCLA School of Law as part of the Gender Identity in U.S. Surveillance (GenIUSS) Project

Background

Transgender has been defined generally as not conforming to societal norms of gender, or specifically to having a gender identity and/or expression that is contrary to one’s assigned sex at birth.  The term is used to refer to a broad range of identities and expressions within the United States and other English speaking countries.  There are efforts to identify study measures that are able to identify transgender populations, but little is known about how cisgender men and women will respond to those questions

Methods

The study interviewed 25 cisgender and transgender men and women to cognitively test how individuals respond to questions about transition status, gender nonconformity, and birth-sex assignment (the two-step and gender nonconformity measures).  The results will help assess the utility and understanding of quantitative measures designed to people’s transition status and gender nonconformity.

Results

Factors discussed include the understandability of the questions and participants ability to accurately identify people’s transition status and gender nonconformity in a manner that has high reliability and validity within quantitative analysis.  Generally, participants were able to easily answer questions relating to transition status but had more difficulty regarding gender expression

Discussion/Conclusion

Results will show that measures to identify transgender populations can be effectively used on cisgender populations, while still being able to identify transgender populations.

Lombardi GLMA poster

Project Summary: Finding Measures to Identify Gender Minority Populations

Research examining health disparities among gender minorities (transgender, transsexual, and other gender nonconforming individuals) has reached a stage where population based studies are needed in order to expand upon what smaller, community based studies have found.

However, the diversity of terminology and operationalization of various gender minority groups has made it difficult to identify a measure that can be used globally.

At the same time, it will be necessary to create a measure that can be understood by gender majority populations and correctly differentiate between gender majority and minority populations.

One concept that stands out is gender identity/gender transition.  Gender identity/gender transition is defined by people’s answers to two questions, one asking about one’s sex assigned at birth and another about their current sex or gender.  This “two-step” question is being advocated by the Center of Excellence for Transgender Health.

A preliminary study utilizing the National Transgender Discrimination Survey (NTDS) conducted by the National Center for Transgender Equality and the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force examined the relationship between gender identity/gender transition and discrimination.  A dichotomous measure was based on two questions:

What sex were you assigned at birth
What is your primary gender identity Male      Female
Male/Man No          Yes
Female/Woman Yes         No
Part-time No          No
Other No          No

The measure identified those whose primary gender identity was consistently different from their sex assigned at birth (yes versus no).

Another concept is that of gender nonconformity.  Gender nonconformity was measured by a single question “People can tell I’m transgender/gender non-conforming even if I don’t tell them?”.  The variable ranged from zero (never) to four (always).

Plotting these two variables against people’s experiences with discrimination resulted in the following:

http://emilia-lombardi.com/wp-admin/images/discbygi.jpg

Those who were identified as having a gender different from their assigned sex were found to report more experiences of discrimination; even at higher levels of gender nonconformity.

The above data was found to show that a two-step gender identity question could be useful in identifying those likely to experience greater social disparities among transgender populations.  The next step was to examine whether gender majority individuals can understand and answer these questions in a way that represents their gender majority status.

Another study (funded by the Williams Institute, UCLA) examined gender identity/gender transition measures by conducting cognitive interviews with 50 people (25 gender minority, 25 gender majority).  The interviews asked people to read and answer the questions; afterwards they were interviewed about why they answered the way they did.

The study utilized these questions:

1. What is your sex or gender? (Check ALL that apply)
  • Male
  • Female
  • Other: Please specify: _____________________
 2. What sex were you assigned at birth? (Check one)
  • Male
  • Female
  • Unknown or Question Not Asked
  • Decline to State

The results show that individuals within the gender majority group consistently answered these questions in a manner that identified their gender majority status.  If they answered male (or female) in the first question, they also answered male (or female) for the second; whereas, individuals within the gender minority group had different answers for both questions, and a small number used the “other” option for the first question.

Overall, the two-step question was effective and easily understood by both groups.

  • Individuals within the gender majority group were able to answer the question about sex assigned at birth even though they never heard the phrase before.  They knew what it was referring too.
  • Most people in both groups see gender as an identity
  • People generally felt these two questions were easy to answer.
  • Gender minority group generally saw a difference between the terms sex and gender, but the gender majority group tended to see the terms to be the same.

The next step is to utilize these measures in a quantitative study with gender majority and minority populations to see how effective they are in the field.

Call for Submissions for TSQ: Transgender Studies Quarterly 2.1 (2015)

I’m one of the editors for this special issue.

“Making Transgender Count”

As a relatively new social category, the very notion of a “transgender population” poses numerous intellectual, political, and technical challenges. Who gets to define what transgender is, or who is transgender?  How are trans people counted—and by whom and for whom are they enumerated? Why is counting transgender members of a population seen as making that population’s government accountable to those individuals? What is at stake in “making transgender count”—and how might this process vary in different national, linguistic, or cultural contexts?

This issue of TSQ seeks to present a range of approaches to these challenges—everything from analyses that generate more effective and inclusive ways to measure and count gender identity and/or transgender persons, to critical perspectives on quantitative methodologies and the politics of what Ian Hacking has called “making up people.”

In many countries, large-scale national health surveys provide data that policy-makers rely on to monitor the health of the populations they oversee, and to make decisions about the allocation of resources to particular groups and regions—yet transgender people remain invisible in most such data collection projects. When administrative gender is conceived as a male/female binary determined by the sex assigned at birth, the structure, and very existence, of trans sub populations can be invisibilized by government data collection efforts. Without the routine and standardized collection of information about transgender populations, some advocates contend, transgender people will not “count” when government agencies make decisions about the health, safety and public welfare of the population. But even as more agencies become more open to surveying transgender populations, experts and professionals are not yet of one mind as to what constitutes “best practices” for sampling methods that will accurately capture respondents’ gender identity/expression, and the diversity of transgender communities. In still other quarters, debates rage about the ethics of counting trans people in the first place.

We invite proposals for scholarly essays that tackle transgender inclusion and/or gender identity/expression measurement and sampling methods in population studies, demography, epidemiology, and other social sciences. We also invite submissions that critically engage with the project of categorizing and counting “trans” populations.

Potential topics might include:

  • best practices and strategies for transgender inclusion and sampling in quantitative research;
  • critical reflections on past, current, and future data collection efforts;
  • the potential effects of epidemiological research on health and other disparities in trans communities;
  • who counts/gets counted and who does not: occlusions of disability, race, ethnicity, class, gender in  quantitative research on trans communities;
  • the tension between the contextually specific meaning of transgender identities and the generality and fixity that data collection requires of its constructs and social categories;
  • implications of linguistic, geographical, and cultural diversity in definitions of transgender and the limits of its applicability;
  • critical engagements with of the biopolitics of enumerating the population.

Please send full length article submissions by December 31, 2013 to   tsqjournal@gmail.com along with a brief bio including name, postal address, and any institutional affiliation. Illustrations, figures and tables should be included with the submission.

The guest editors for this issue are Jody Herman (Williams Institute, UCLA School of Law), Emilia Lombardi (Baldwin Wallace University), Sari L. Reisner (Harvard School of Public Health), Ben Singer (Vanderbilt University), and Hale Thompson (University of Illinois at Chicago). Any questions should be sent to the guest editors at tsqjournal@gmail.com.

TSQ: Transgender Studies Quarterly is a new journal, edited by Paisley Currah and Susan Stryker to be published by Duke University Press. TSQ aims to be the journal of record for the interdisciplinary field of transgender studies and to promote the widest possible range of perspectives on transgender phenomena broadly defined. Every issue of TSQ will be a specially themed issue that also contains regularly recurring features such as reviews, interviews, and opinion pieces. To learn more about the journal and see calls for papers for future special issues, visit  http://lgbt.arizona.edu/tsq-main.   For information about subscriptions, visit  http://www.dukeupress.edu/Catalog/ViewProduct.php?productid=45648