Gendered Intelligence: Understanding diversity in creative ways

Quality of Life Survey

August - September 2016

How good is quality of life for trans & gender nonconforming adults in England?

Gendered Intelligence and the Institute of Management Studies at Goldsmiths University of London ran an online survey of the quality of life of transgender and gender nonconforming adults in England.

The survey ran from August to October 2016. Over 900 people took the survey.

Dr Jo Lloyd from the Institute of Management Studies at Goldsmiths, University of London is leading the study.

Information about the study

What is quality of life?

The term quality of life holds meaning for everyone. It is one of those everyday terms that almost anyone would feel able to define intuitively. However, quality of life is also a concept that we can examine through research, with the goal of better understanding people’s living standards, wellbeing, success and happiness. One of the most widely recognised formal definitions of quality of life is provided by the World Health Organization (WHO) which states “Quality of life is defined as individuals’ perceptions of their position in life in the context of culture and value systems in which they live and in relation to their goals, expectations, standards and concerns.” (WHO, 1996). More simply put, quality of life involves our personal feelings about the positive and negative aspects of our lives, whilst taking into consideration what we may want to achieve, as well as broader expectations of living standards within the society in which we live. This is the definition that we accept and wish to evaluate in our study of transgender and gender nonconforming people in England. That is, we wish to understand how transgender and gender nonconforming people view their lives, both in terms of the things that bring them vitality, as well as the things that pose them challenges, in the context of broader expectations about living standards in England in 2016.

Why is this study important?

Quality of life is important for everyone; however, it may be particularly important for researchers to begin to examine this concept in transgender and gender nonconforming people. Firstly, research on transgender and gender nonconforming people is incredibly sparse relative to other minority social groups. Secondly, the research which does exist has been disproportionally focussed on the distress, difficulties and disadvantages experienced by this group. For example, research has demonstrated that transgender and gender nonconforming people experience various manifestations of discrimination, and consistent with this, higher than average levels of psychological distress. Whilst such research is undoubtedly important for highlighting critical issues in this social group, an unswerving focus on the negative aspects of experience means that a more comprehensive understanding of people’s lives has not been attained. Through investigating both the positive and negative aspects of transgender and gender nonconforming people’s lives, we hope to gain a broader understanding of this social group and thus be in a position to comment more expansively about the issues that may affect people. Furthermore, by understanding the positive aspects of people’s lives, we may be in a position to understand how sources of individual, social and community resilience can help people to cope with the more negative aspects of their experience.

How are we studying quality of life?

The first questionnaire that we would like people to respond to represents the start point of our study. Through examining people’s responses to this questionnaire we would be gaining an insight into the thoughts, feelings, emotions and experiences people are having right now and thus a snapshot into transgender and gender nonconforming people’s quality of life in 2016. However, life is not static, and thoughts, feelings, emotions and experiences may change and develop over time. Therefore, we would like to gain an insight into people’s lives over a longer period of time by asking them to respond to our questionnaire at this same time each year for the next few years. By examining people’s responses year on year we can track people and see how they change, or indeed remain the same, and gain a more nuanced understanding of the impact of certain life conditions in the longer term.

Why are we only looking at over 18s?

Our focus is not reflective of the value of people’s contributions at different ages, rather it reflects the need to limit the scope of the study due to resource limitations. We are carrying out this research in accordance with the British Psychological Society’s (BPS’) ethical standards, and Goldsmiths’ Institute of Management Studies (IMS) ethical committee, in order to ensure the highest level of ethical consideration for the population of people we are studying. In accordance with these standards, individuals under the age of 18 would need to gain consent to participate in the study from someone with parental responsibility. Given limitations to resources we were unable to provide the admin support necessary to facilitate this extended consent process. Therefore, on this occasion, it was necessary to limit the scope of the study to those over the age of 18. We regret that we will be missing the perspectives of an important section of the transgender and gender nonconforming community, but hope to be able to focus on the younger people in this social group in future studies.

Bio for Dr Jo Lloyd

Dr Jo Lloyd is a lecturer and researcher in work psychology at Goldsmiths’ Institute of Management Studies (IMS). Dr Lloyd’s most recent line of work of concerns understanding the workplace experiences of marginalised occupational groups. Major projects that are currently underway include: examining workplace discrimination in sexual minority employees; investigating the preferred job conditions of working adults with a diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder; understanding the impact of subtle and everyday racial insults on black and minority ethnic employees. Dr Lloyd’s other major line of work concerns workplace stress management interventions, and the implications of psychological characteristics for employee health and performance. Dr Lloyd is a Chartered Psychologist with the British Psychological Society (BPS), and as a Registered Occupational Psychologist with the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC). She regularly presents on her work in both UK and international academic conferences, and is a frequent guest speaker in a variety of professional and consulting contexts.

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