Browse Articles

Trans Research Ethics

Challenges and Recommendations for Change

Zack Marshall, Chris Kaposy, Fern Brunger, Vivian Welch | December 16, 2022

The field of research that includes transgender, nonbinary, and gender diverse (collectively, trans) people is expanding. In early research, trans people were often the objects of study. As trans studies evolves, community members are turning a critical eye to research practices. In this paper we join others in presenting a call for changes at each stage of the research process. Grounded in specific examples, nine core challenges are identified. Related to research focus and study design there are problems linked to: 1) centering a cisnormative world view, 2) conducting research not identified as a priority by trans communities, and 3) lack of accountability in research design decisions. Regarding data collection and analysis, concerns include: 4) reinforcing gender binaries, 5) collapsing gender and sexual diversity, and 6) misrepresenting trans experiences through data manipulation. In terms of reporting and publishing practices, challenges are identified related to: 7) misgendering, 8) informational erasure in reporting research results, and 9) under-attention to complex informed consent dynamics. Linking the trans research ethics literature with concrete documentation of the ways researchers discuss and represent trans people and their personal information in peer-reviewed publications, this manuscript contributes to new dialogues about improving research processes with communities invested in accountability.

Whither Trans Studies?

On Fields, Post-Disciplines, and the Need for an Applied Transgender Studies

Thomas J Billard, Avery R. Everhart, Erique Zhang | June 13, 2022

The institutionalization of transgender studies as a field comes just as the academy has decided that “fields” are a less relevant and more cumbersome aspect of professional academic organization that prevents the kind of theoretical and empirical work needed to make scholarship relevant to contemporary society. A number of areas of intellectual inquiry have, accordingly, shifted to a “post-discipline” model of academic organization. But what would it mean to think of transgender studies as a post-discipline? First, it would mean a turn away from a focus on field-building within the humanities. Second, it would mean insisting upon transdisciplinary collaboration despite the academy’s failure to encourage such collaboration. But perhaps most importantly, it would mean a turn *toward* addressing the material conditions of transgender existence and the issues transgender people face in the world. In short, it would mean reorienting ourselves toward an *applied transgender studies*.

Grieving the Transgender (Assumed-Cisgender) Child

What Gendered Mourning Among Midwestern Parents Tells Us About Familial Cisnormativity and Creating Livable Trans Futures

Mel Constantine Miseo | December 16, 2022

This article examines how feelings of loss and grief commonly experienced by parents of transgender youth, which I call gendered mourning, give insight into the cisnormative inner workings of family gender systems. Examination into the experience of gendered mourning illuminates the ways in which cisnormativity frames ideas of familial futurity, setting parents up for feelings of loss. Ethnographic fieldwork at a support group for parents of transgender youth in a Midwestern state in the United States and in-depth interviews with attendees of the support group reveal that gendered mourning primarily involves feelings about a child's changing name and body, the trans child existing in a hostile world, and fears of losing a child through suicide. Additionally, this study finds that gendered mourning has generative capabilities for informing parental work of fostering trans livability. This research positions cisnormativity, acting as a collective harm to us all, as the producer of loss instead of the transgender child.

Surviving COVID-19 in India

Transgender Activism in a Neoliberal-Developmentalist Assemblage

Aniruddha Dutta | June 13, 2022

Transgender and gender non-conforming people, particularly communities from predominantly working-class and Dalit (oppressed-caste) backgrounds such as kothis and hijras, were among those hit hardest during the COVID-19 pandemic in India. The COVID-19 crisis was exacerbated by the policies of the Indian state, which demonstrate an unstable assemblage or conjuncture of neoliberal and developmentalist tendencies, in keeping with long-term systemic patterns in the region. The article situates Indian trans activism during the COVID-19 pandemic within the context of the neoliberal--developmentalist assemblage that characterizes governance in contemporary India and examines the possibilities and limitations of such activism. During the COVID-19 crisis, trans communities and activists contest and negotiate with the state in variable ways, sometimes bolstering and suturing neoliberal and developmentalist modes of governance and sometimes challenging or undermining them, and even playing them against each other. This article traces these varied negotiations and analyzes how they not only enable the survival of trans people through the pandemic, but also demonstrate ways activists may push back against the state's simultaneous regulation and neglect of their communities.

"Of Course, I'm Intimidated by Them. They Could Take My Human Rights Away"

Trans Children's Experiences with UK Gender Clinics

Cal Horton | June 13, 2022

Gender clinics engaging with pre-pubertal trans children are divided between those that endorse a gender affirmative approach and those that do not. Little evidence is available on how trans children experience non-affirmative gender clinics in early childhood. This study aimed to understand pre-pubertal trans children’s recent experiences in non-affirmative gender clinics in the UK. Data focused on a cohort of trans children who socially transitioned under age eleven. Data were drawn from semi-structured qualitative interviews with ten trans children and 30 UK-based parents of trans children, focusing on children’s pre-pubertal engagement with UK gender clinics. Themes are presented on 1) inappropriate assessment of gender; 2) trans children under pressure; and 3) distress and trauma in UK gender clinics. The article presents evidence of continued pathologisation and problematisation of childhood gender diversity in UK children’s gender clinics. It demonstrates the harms pf the status quo and the need for systemic reform, providing modern affirmative care for younger trans children.


Examining the Socio-Politically Driven Gender Minority Stressors Experienced by People Who Detransitioned

Kinnon R. MacKinnon, W. Ariel Gould, Florence Ashley, Gabriel Enxuga, Hannah Kia, Lori E. Ross | December 16, 2022

Existing research on gender minority stress theory largely presumes that transgender identity is a categorically immutable characteristic often tied to a unidirectional gender transition, neglecting to consider individuals whose gender identity/expression and embodiment desires change over time. Applying constructivist grounded theory, this article empirically develops the concept of *detransphobia* from the distal and proximal gender minority stressors, stigma, and discrimination experienced by individuals who shifted or reversed their gender transition. Between October 2021 and January 2022, 28 participants completed semi-structured, one-on-one virtual interviews regarding their experiences of detransition/retransition and their social support needs. Interviews ranged between 50--90 minutes and they were transcribed and analyzed following an iterative, multi-pronged coding process to thematically conceptualize detransphobia. Fifty-two percent of the sample reported three or more past gender identities, 61% currently identified as nonbinary, and 100% identified along the LGBTQ+ spectrum. Participants' experiences of multiple gender transitions, and their embodiment following detransition, rendered them vulnerable to unique gender minority stressors for inhabiting an unintelligible category---detrans. Detransphobia was found to be rooted in cisnormativity and transnormativity, together with socio-politically-located anti-transgender stereotypes related to the process and the outcomes of detransitioning. Detransphobia compounds gender minority stressors and social exclusion in those who shift or reject their past transgender identity through the process of detransition.

Body Image and Eating Behavior in Transgender Men and Women

The Importance of Stage of Gender Affirmation

Gayle Brewer, Laura Hanson, Noreen Caswell | June 13, 2022

Previous research suggests that transgender men and women are more likely to experience body dissatisfaction and disordered eating. Few studies have, however, investigated the manner in which body dissatisfaction and eating behavior are affected by the gender affirmation process. To address this issue, semi-structured interviews were conducted with transgender men and women (*N* = 22) recruited from British support groups. Participants were aged 19--71 years. Participant sexuality included heterosexual, homosexual, pansexual, and asexual orientations and all participants identified themselves as white. For both transgender men and women, analyses revealed a shift from a focus on psychological wellbeing in the early stages of gender affirmation to physical wellbeing in the later stages. While body dissatisfaction appeared to dissipate as gender affirmation progressed, a common theme across the gender affirmation process was that both transgender men and women engaged in risky behaviors related to transforming body shape and size. Findings highlight the need to consider the influence of gender affirmation when researching the interconnections between attitudes, behavior, and emotions relating to gender identity.

The Challenges of Trans Public Policy in Argentina and Germany

A Conversation Between Nyke Slawik and Alba Rueda

Patricio Simonetto, Janek Scholz | December 16, 2022

The Argentinian Gender Identity Law was approved in 2012. On the occasion of its tenth anniversary and in the wake of a German self-determination law, two pioneer trans activists engaged in policymaking---Alba Rueda of Argentina and Nyke Slawik of Germany---discuss the challenges of developing trans-supportive policies in Latin America and Europe. Besides the differences between the two countries and the complexities of language and political--cultural translation, the conversation showcases some of the various ways in which scholarship, policymaking, and activism can create critical spaces of conversation to foster new synergies against exclusionary and reactionary trends, and to build a more democratic and equal future for everyone. The conversation is preceded by a short scholarly introduction that presents the theoretical context for the conversation and introduces the discussants. The article closes with a conclusion that unpacks the general implications of the conversation for scholars and advocates working in Germany, Argentina, and beyond.

"I Have to Decide How Attached to that Future I Feel"

Fertility Intentions and Desires Among Transmasculine Young Adults

Alischer Cottrill, Elizabeth Janiak, Allegra Gordon, Jennifer Potter, Madina Agénor | June 13, 2022

Though many transmasculine individuals pursue pregnancy, childbirth, and parenthood in their lifetimes, research on the reproductive health needs of this population remains limited. This study aimed to explore the fertility intentions and desires of transmasculine young adults, as well as the multilevel factors that influence their pregnancy-related decisions. We conducted in-depth interviews with transmasculine young adults aged 18--29 (*N* = 21) in Boston, MA, USA between February and July of 2018. Interviews were transcribed and analyzed using a thematic analysis approach involving inductive and deductive coding via a codebook applied by two independent coders. While many participants reported no lifetime desire for pregnancy, a sizable minority expressed some desire to become pregnant in the future. Fertility intentions were shaped by a range of anticipated barriers, including gender dysphoria, difficulty navigating gendered stereotypes about pregnancy, inadequate information about fertility and pregnancy for transmasculine individuals, and a lack of health providers with the training and experience to offer high-quality pregnancy-related care to transmasculine patients. Multilevel interventions that address cisnormative stigma and discrimination in reproductive health care settings, improve patient-provider communication, and increase provider fluency with transmasculine health needs are necessary to facilitate access to the full spectrum of fertility-related services among transmasculine young adults.

Sex is as Sex Does: Governing Transgender Identity

by Paisley Currah

Zein Murib | December 16, 2022

Moving from Gender Dysphoria to Gender Euphoria

Trans Experiences of Positive Gender-Related Emotions

Kai Jacobsen, Aaron Devor | June 13, 2022

While trans identities are typically understood through the distress-based concept of *gender dysphoria*, some trans people use the term *gender euphoria* to describe their experiences. Broadly defined as positive gender-related emotions, the concept has become more common in trans communities in recent years but has received little academic attention. To fill this gap, we conducted qualitative interviews with five trans individuals. We found that gender euphoria refers to positive emotions resulting from affirmation of one's gender identity or expression and can include a wide variety of emotions and experiences. Gender euphoria can range from feelings of intense joy accompanying the attainment of milestones in gender transition through to a more consistent sense of calmness and relief occurring later in transition. We contextualize these findings within the gender minority stress model to explore the link between gender euphoria, dysphoria, and health and well-being generally. Our findings emphasize the value of prioritizing euphoria, happiness, and safety in gender-affirming care.

Supporting Success for LGBTQ+ Students: Tools for Inclusive Campus Practice

by Cindy Ann Kilgo

T. J. Jourian, D. Chase J. Catalano, Z Nicolazzo | December 16, 2022

Autistics Never Arrive

A Mixed Methods Content Analysis of Transgender and Autistic Autobiography

Noah Adams | June 13, 2022

This article presents a mixed methods content analysis of autobiographies by transgender autistics (autistic-trans). It incorporates books, anthologies, poems, and prose, including self-published, grey, and professionally published texts up to June 2020. Seventy-one English-language texts in 15 separate books were identified. The first was published in 2003 and the majority have been published since 2013. The most common themes explored individuals' experience of autism diagnosis, community, coming out (as trans), and gender, with many speaking of being nonbinary, genderless, or using autism-specific genders (e.g., autigender). Notably, these themes, which exemplify those that are important to autistic-trans writers, contrast markedly with the topics of most academic work on autistic-trans lives. These experiences were explored in the context of the double empathy problem, the looping effect, gender performance, and trans healthcare access. These findings can be used to inform future research on the transgender-autistic community.

Tipping Points and Shifting Expectations

The Promise of Applied Trans Studies for Building Structural Competency

Austin H Johnson | June 13, 2022

In 2021, the United States experienced the most active year on record for anti-trans legislation. In 2022, we are witnessing the renewal of this legislative harassment, with increased success on the part of anti-trans lawmakers. When these bills are passed into law and, importantly, even when they are resoundingly defeated or fail to reach an actual vote, the harmful rhetoric and ideology that is attached to them reverberates throughout trans communities resulting in social and psychological harm for transgender, nonbinary, and gender diverse people. The burden of addressing and offsetting this harm is often placed on the shoulders of other trans people who serve as grassroots leaders in their communities. This article argues that while this support is lifesaving for individual trans people, transformative change requires an increase in *structural competency* in our mainstream social institutions, and makes the case for applied trans studies as a pathway to that end.

The Transgender Issue: An Argument for Justice

by Shon Faye

Matt Kennedy | June 13, 2022

Side Affects: On Being Trans and Feeling Bad

by Hil Malatino

Jordan Keesler | June 13, 2022

Bulletin of Applied Transgender Studies
Northwestern University Libraries
Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0)
The Bulletin of Applied Transgender Studies is the leading venue for academic research addressing the social, cultural, and political issues facing transgender and gender minority communities across the globe. The journal offers a platinum open access forum for research of all theoretical and methodological approaches oriented toward the identification, analysis, and improvement of the material conditions of transgender life.