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Trans Research


A consequence of decades of marginalisation is that there is very little quality data about the lives of trans people in this world.

Anecdotally most trans people will say they know of people who have lost their jobs through discrimination, have been denied services, may have been treated badly by medical professionals, lost family contact or endured harassment and violence. It is this kind of knowledge that served to keep many people in hiding for years — further reinforcing the invisibility of their suffering.

But anecdotes don’t justify policy changes and investment.

Equally, experienced campaigners know that horror stories can also be balanced by encouraging tales of good practice — of people simply being thoughtful, considerate and kind. The challenge is to be able to quantify the extent of the ’bad’ to justify action to promote and encourage the ’good’.

But good practice examples don’t just appear; they have to be found and documented.

Ironically trans people have been “researched” and written about for years by some sectors of medicine and academia. Unfortunately the research has often been very poor, the data have sometimes been affected by so-called ’selection bias’ and researchers have sometimes been criticised for allowing their own relative social perspectives to cloud interpretation and findings. Above all, some researchers in the past have been strongly criticised for seeing research as a means to obtain funding and advance their careers, rather than to improve the understanding and lived experiences of trans people themselves.

PFC’s View

As campaigners the vice presidents of Press for Change know the value of good research:

  • Case examples are often essential to justify the need for legislative and policy provisions. It is the detail in such examples which helps ensure that new laws and practices are capable of serving trans people effectively
  • Reliable numbers are also an essential part of working to secure the right level of resources and investment in training, literature and people

Practically everything we do nowadays requires reliable factual data and conclusions.

How we Work

Press for Change campaigners are increasingly involved in positions where they are able to specify or call for research. We also know that many well-meaning researchers lack the basic knowledge to carry out good research on trans people — and they lack the means to access significant numbers of people for the data. Our approach recognises this:

  • We are happy to advise bona-fide researchers on the ethics and practicalities of how to carry out research that can truly benefit trans people’s lives
  • In the right circumstances we are able to help researchers reach large numbers of subjects they would otherwise be unable to find
  • Increasingly Press for Change also bids for and obtains funding to carry out essential core research itself — assembling world class academic expertise to conduct and manage the work

Equality and Human Rights Research

Completed Research

Engendered Penalties: Transgender and Transsexual People’s Experiences of Inequality and Discrimination

Transgender EuroStudy: Legal Survey and Focus on the Transgender Experience of Health Care - An Online Survey of Inequalities and Discrimination experienced by Trans People in Europe

Dr Stephen Whittle, Professor of Equalities Law at Manchester Metropolitan University and Dr Lewis Turner, both of the FTM Network UK and Press for Change led a small (and very short) research project for the European Union, Press for Change, ILGA & Transgender Europe.