Who is behind this study?
The Our Health Matters study team includes trans activists and researchers, as well as allied cis researchers, from India, the United States, and Canada. You can see bios of all team members here. Two trans-led organizations are partners on Our Health Matters, and members sit on the study Steering Committee: TWEET Foundation and Transmen Collective.
Academic researchers on the team are based at Drexel University in Philadelphia, USA; the Population Council in New Delhi; the Centre for Sexuality and Health Research and Policy (C-SHaRP) in Chennai; the University of Toronto in Toronto, Canada; and Harvard University in Boston, USA. The study is funded by the U.S. National Institutes of Health/National Institute on Mental Health.
Why is this study happening?
Because our health matters! Trans men and transmasculine people sometimes experience mental and physical health challenges because of stigma and discrimination at multiple levels (e.g., in families, health care services, and policies). Support from trans peers, families, health care providers, and policymakers may help to address these challenges. Research is important for documenting community experiences and identifying strategies to improve well-being. However, until now there has been little research on transmasculine health in India, particularly research that takes a community-based approach. Our Health Matters was developed to start filling this gap.
How are data being collected and who can participate?
Our Health Matters is using both qualitative and quantitative methods: qualitative methods help us to understand the stories of participants in their own voices while quantitative methods use numbers to help document how common various experiences are. Both these forms of data are critical for education and advocacy to change hearts and minds.
In the first stage of the research, we conducted remote qualitative interviews with 40 transmasculine people in Hindi, Marathi, or English. People were eligible to participate if they were a trans man or transmasculine person, 18 years or older, living in India, and comfortable speaking in Hindi, Marathi, or English.
In the second stage of research, we conducted a quantitative survey with over 300 respondents. The survey was offered in English, Hindi, Marathi, Bengali, and Telugu.
How is this project responsive and accountable to transmasculine communities?
Our Health Matters is using a community-based research approach, in which community members have leadership roles and take decisions on the goals, priorities, and methods of the research. Community-based research is action-oriented and involves using research data for education and advocacy.
Our Health Matters was initiated by Indian trans men in partnership with the Principal Investigator, who is a trans man. Major project decisions are made by a steering committee composed of Indian trans men and transmasculine people. These decisions include project goals, research questions, recruitment strategies, and approaches to sharing the research findings. We also held community consultations in 2019 that we used to determine the study’s research questions and design.
Community-based research also supports capacity building. Our Health Matters hires and trains community members to work on all aspects of the study.
Are non-binary people included in the study?
Our Health Matters includes all people who were assigned female at birth and who identify as trans men or transmasculine, including non-binary transmasculine persons. We have taken care to ensure that the questions we ask in our interviews and surveys are nonbinary-inclusive, and always welcome your feedback.
What efforts have been made to make the study inclusive of different groups?
All study activities and materials are available in Hindi, Marathi, Telegu, Bengali, and English and we are committed to translating into additional languages when possible. In our steering committee and participant recruitment, we prioritize involvement of trans men and transmasculine people of diverse ages, genders, sexualities, abilities, classes, caste backgrounds, and religions. One of our research goals is to understand how intersecting identities impact transmasculine well-being, and we ask our participants to share information on the same.
Why is the survey only available in some languages?
We consider Our Health Matters to be the first project of its kind and therefore we want it to be accessible to as many people as possible. We began with the languages that are most relevant to our community partners, who are mainly located in Delhi and Mumbai. Although the survey is not available online in additional languages due to resource limitations, research staff will do their best to be able to accommodate those with language barriers. In future projects, we hope to be able to offer full translation in additional languages.
How will I know my information is safe?
Your research data will be stored on secure servers at the Population Council office in New Delhi and at Drexel University in Philadelphia, USA. The research database will not include any personal identifiers (e.g., name, contact information). If you provide personal information to schedule an interview or receive compensation, that information will be stored in a secure location separate from your research information, and only the staff at the Population Council will have access to that information. Our data protection procedures have been approved by ethical review boards at Drexel University, the Population Council, and the Centre for Sexuality and Health Research and Policy (C-SHaRP).
Can I take the survey more than once?
To ensure we collect authentic data about the community, it is essential that each participant complete the survey only once. Towards this, we have incorporated mechanisms to detect duplicate entries. Individuals who complete the survey more than once will not be compensated.
What happens if I need support during or after participating in this study?
As a research project, we’re not able to provide direct ongoing support to individuals, however we have taken steps to ensure the safety and well-being of research participants and staff. We have a resource list on our website and will provide contact info for helplines during the survey. If you participate in the study in-person, our staff can help connect you with any resources you may need.
What will we do with the results?
Qualitative (narratives from interview) and quantitative (statistics from the survey) results will be shared with trans community members, families, health care providers, policymakers, and other stakeholders. For example, study findings will be shared with the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment, the National Council for Transgender Persons, and the Association for Transgender Health in India. Results will only be shared in aggregate form to protect participant confidentiality. We will publish articles in scientific journals, using open access publishing so they are freely available. We will also share findings through presentations at relevant conferences, webinars, and in-person community events. We will use infographics and videos to share key findings online. Project publications and presentations will also be shared on this website.