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$643,000 grant breaks new ground in transgender research

  |   Kristen B. Morales   |   Permalink   |   News Release

Athens, Ga. – The University of Georgia has received $643,000 as part of a national study on identity development in transgender populations, the largest study of its kind to date.

The five-year, $2.9 million grant from the National Institutes of Health (No. 3675066) includes three study sites and partner institutions: New York City (Columbia University), San Francisco (San Francisco State University) and Atlanta (UGA). The study will look at the transgender identity development, as well as risk and resilience factors.

Through surveys and interviews, the national partnership will help lay the groundwork for implementing critical social services and support networks for the transgender population. The first year of the project will look at critical incidents, starting from birth, that help shape a person's gender identity.

Anneliese Singh, who is leading the Atlanta team and is an associate professor in the Department of Counseling and Human Development Services in the UGA College of Education, said this study is unique because of its proactive focus. Until now, major studies on transgender populations have been reactive, typically associated with HIV.

"We will be looking at critical incidents in their life in terms of gender identity, and then refining our measures of gender identity, risk and resilience," she said. This includes ways people describe themselves and their gender, the partners they choose, their work environment, and obstacles they face, such as everyday discrimination. "When we know where the barriers are, we can intervene."

This study aligns with previous work Singh has done in the gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and queer population, where she investigates the resilience people build as a result of discrimination.

"There are a lot of things we already know that need to be changed, but in terms of identity development, this will help us develop better intervention and prevention initiatives," added Singh. "It's about creating better health outcomes for transgender people across the lifespan, and ultimately reducing the massive amounts of discrimination they face."

© University of Georgia, Athens, GA 30602