How Perceptions of Gender Identity Impact Upon Transgender People's Well-being and Cisgender People's Attitudes Towards Transgender People
Here I discuss my original research proposal. Check out my next post to see how my research has changed and expanded.
My research question is: How do the perceived influences of gender identity impact upon transgender peoples’ well-being and the general populations’ attitudes on transgender issues? I hope to identify what people (transgender and general population samples) believe are the causes of gender identity; assess the well-being of a transgender population; and assess the attitudes towards transgender issues of a general population sample. We can then analyse whether certain beliefs about the causes of gender identity are linked with greater well-being in a transgender population, and more positive attitudes towards transgender issues in a general population.
Does the way a trans person understands why they are trans, impact their well-being? If a trans person believes they made a choice, does this control hinder or help them? If a trans person believes they have a medical condition, does this lead to decreased well-being as compared to someone who believes it is simply part of their identity? For example, I once met a trans person who described being transgender as having an intersex condition of the brain. I wonder if that kind of belief is useful for well-being or not. Likewise, for cisgender people, is having a belief that transgender people were born that way due to genetic or biological factors, associated with greater support and acceptance of trans people? Is believing that parental rearing or environment or choice associated with decreased support of trans people?
I became interested in this because as a trans person myself, and as someone who has met many trans people, and who consumes a lot of media about trans people, I have noticed that there are a large variety of beliefs about why people are trans and how they view their being trans. Some people do see it as a medical condition and nothing else. Other people rejoice in it being an integral part of their identity. For some people, the research showing that it could due to hormones in utero, helps them to feel more secure and sure of themselves.
In the first summer we will create and publish questionnaires which identify what people believe are the causes of gender identity; assess the well-being of a transgender population; and assess the attitudes towards transgender issues, of a general population sample. We will publish the questionnaire for the general population on Prolific; my adviser expects a large sample size can be obtained within a few days. We will publish the questionnaire for the transgender population on online forums and groups for transgender people, which I have connections to. I will also contact Stonewall, with whom I have a contact, to enquire about other ways of accessing this population. We hope to provide participants with a small amount of compensation for participating in the research.
For the general population sample, we can easily obtain a large sample size. However, as transgender people make up only a small proportion of the UK’s population and there are, therefore, less potential participants, it is more difficult to obtain a large sample size. Separating the research period into two three-week blocks at the beginning and end of summer, will give more time for participants to complete the questionnaire.
From these results, we can then analyse whether certain beliefs about the causes of gender identity are linked with greater well-being in a transgender population, and more positive attitudes towards transgender issues in a general population.
In the second summer, I propose to produce, and deliver, an intervention in the UK, and attend a transgender health conference to speak about the research.
The intervention would be based on the research results obtained in summer one. The intervention would encourage beliefs that the research showed were associated with greater well-being and more positive attitudes. The intervention would be carried out with both a transgender population sample (in a focus group, or in transgender organisations), and a general population sample (which can be obtained in various ways, such as from local residents or students).
In addition, during summer two, I propose to apply for funding to travel internationally to a transgender health conference. Through this, the research could be promoted to both a transgender population and the academic community. I would contact those running this conference, and others, to enquire about the possibility of speaking.
The initial research carried out would be a preliminary exploratory project and it is therefore difficult to make specific predictions. However, the results of Lanie et al. (2004) and Jayaratne et al. (2006) can provide a sense of the direction our research results may find. Possible results may be that the belief that we have some control over our identity is related to well-being in a transgender population but related to more negative attitudes toward transgender individuals in a general population.