Step 1 qualitative interviews with key informants and people who work for organizations serving trans women of color
Step 2 focus groups with trans women of color, adults and adolescents
Step 3 survey development
Step 4 survey distribution in Baltimore, and now Washington, DC too
Step 5 analyzing the data
Step 6 sharing findings with trans women, community partners, social services providers, health professionals, public health practitioners, and policy makers
Why expand the study to DC?
One of the reasons we wanted to expand to DC is so that we can learn more from more trans women of color. Why is that important? When analyzing numbers, it is usually better to draw conclusions based on the experiences of a larger group of people if possible. For example, you could talk to 5 trans women of color and learn that 3 (60%) of them do not have any health insurance. Since it was only 5 TWOC, this may not paint a clear picture of what is going on in the larger population. You could then talk to 100 and find out that 20 (20%) do not have health insurance. With a smaller sample size, any statistic is going to seem like a bigger deal. But how big of a sample is big enough? This is where statistics come in. We can do calculations to figure out how large a sample should be in order to get results that match the experiences of the population as a whole. A larger sample also helps us to deal with bias in our data, or if the participants in your sample are very similar or very different from the population. This is often impacted by how and where you recruit participants for your study. For example, if you recruit everyone from one community-based organization, it is possible their shared experiences through that organization make them more similar to one another than if you were recruiting participants from many different community-based organizations across a city.
We also wanted to expand to DC so we could learn more about the experiences of trans women in DC versus Baltimore, who have access to unique health and social service opportunities, and to some extent a unique but comparable social environment. There is also a larger population of latina trans women (or chicas trans) and trans women of color who are immigrants in DC. We are eager to learn more about their health needs.
Sharing the Data
One of the questions we asked our key informants was: how we should go about sharing what we learn?
Many of them had strong feelings to share. Several were frustrated by the fact that researchers come in, collect their data and leave, never to be seen again. There is something exploitative about doing research this way. That being said, we want to do things differently. Based on advice from our key informants, here is what we have planned so far.
Our findings will be shared through a series of peer-reviewed journal articles, scientific presentations, and community-based events. We will disseminate our findings to academic and practitioner communities focused on LGBT needs and HIV as well as local, national, and international transgender groups such as the Baltimore Transgender Response Team, the Transgender Action Group, the National Center for Transgender Equality, the Center for Excellence for Transgender Health, and the World Professional Association for Transgender Health. Of course, we also plan to share our findings with Baltimore and DC city organizations that have participated in our study as well as the local trans community, without whom this study would not be possible. Making sure we present and share information in an accessible way is a major priority for us. If you have suggestions or specific requests in terms of how we can do so, please contact us. We would really appreciate your input.
If you have been reviewing our website and are interested in learning more about our research findings, please visit our Contact page and reach out to us.