Trans and Gender Diverse Community Track
Background : While transgender communities have gained increasing visibility in recent years, they remain one of the most vulnerable groups in Michigan. The “Love Her Collective” was developed through a community-academic partnership between Trans Sistas of Color Project-Detroit (TSoCP) and researchers at the University of Michigan School of Public Health. Transgender women of color (TWOC) are disproportionately affected by HIV and other adverse health outcomes (e.g., substance use and mental health problems). The majority of research efforts with transgender women of color have taken a deficit- or risk-oriented approach, focusing on how to reduce negative health behaviors. Despite systemic oppression and intersectional stigma experienced across multiple levels, many transgender women of color demonstrate substantial resilience in the face of adversity. The goal of the “Love Her Collective” is to collaboratively develop culturally appropriate, empowerment-based health promotion interventions that capitalize on existing processes of resilience within the community to meet the true needs of TWOC color in Detroit, Michigan.
Methods : The efforts of our community-academic partnership are guided by Community-Based Participatory Research principles, including developing collaborative, power-sharing partnerships, building on strengths and resources within the community, and focusing on problems of relevance to the local community while taking into account the multiple social determinants that affect health outcomes. In order to assess the needs of local TWOC, our partnership is conducting focus groups with TWOC in Detroit. Focus groups are focused on understanding the top concerns of TWOC in Detroit, identifying factors that support resilience among TWOC, and understanding specific needs related to health promotion programming. Focus group guides were informed by a psychological phenomenological methodology of qualitative inquiry, which seeks to understand both what and how a group experiences a particular phenomenon (i.e., resilience).
Results : This presentation will share our processes for developing our partnership and co-leading our research activities. Currently, we are conducting the focus groups for the needs assessment; we will present the primary themes identified in the analysis of focus group data – including deductive themes related to resilience, top concerns, and programming needs, as well as emergent inductive themes.
Conclusions : We will share our reflections on the benefits and challenges of community-academic partnerships, as well as suggestions for how to work through challenges. We will present the ethics and benefits of centering the voices of transgender communities, especially TWOC, in research with transgender communities, with recommendations for academics and community organizations who are interested in forming community-academic partnerships. Finally, we will also share implications in terms of how findings from the focus groups can integrated into programming and advocacy with and for TWOC, and on our partnership’s next steps.