About the study
The term ‘quality of life’ is one of those everyday terms that most people would feel able to comment on. 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. The World Health Organization (WHO) offer the following formal definition of quality of life: “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 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.
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. Our reasons for investigating these individuals are twofold. Firstly, research on transgender and gender nonconforming people is incredibly sparse compared 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. Whilst such research is undoubtedly important for highlighting critical issues, an unswerving focus on the negative aspects of experience means that a more comprehensive understanding of people’s lives has not been achieved.
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 better able 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.
Your data (fully anonymised and only analysed in summary form) will be used to inform academic publications on the issues that impact transgender and gender nonconforming people's wellbeing, success and happiness. Further to this, your data will be used to prepare training and workshop resources that will be used to engage people and organisations on the issue of gender, and how to be intelligent, respectful and informed about it. Therefore, your participation will contribute towards furthering both academic conversations and practical efforts regarding the quality of life of transgender and gender nonconforming people.
The first survey that we asked people to respond to was between August and October 2016. Through understanding people’s responses to this survey, we can gain an insight into the thoughts, feelings, emotions and experiences people were having 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 by asking them to respond to our survey between August and October 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.
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, to ensure the highest level of ethical consideration. 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 are unable to provide the admin support necessary to facilitate this extended consent process. Therefore, on this occasion, it is 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.
Dr Jo Lloyd is a senior lecturer and researcher in work psychology at Goldsmiths’ Institute of Management Studies (IMS). Her research interests include examining the personal and professional experiences of marginalised social groups (particularly gender and sexual minority groups) and enhancing workplace health and wellbeing. 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.