In the last month, people across the nation saw the transformation of Caitlyn Jenner. Jenner is not alone, and there are many others out there in the world who are born into bodies that they do not feel reflect their identity.
Anneliese Singh, an associate professor in the Department of Counseling and Human Development Services, has been selected to take part of a national study with other researchers across the nation to research the interaction of gender identity and transgender individuals.
According to the American Psychological Association, gender identity is defined as someone’s sense of being male or female and the socially constructed roles that accompany them. The study that Professor Singh is participating in is funded by a five year $2.9 million grant from the National Institutes of Health. The study will focus on how transgender people developed their gender identity.
For Professor Singh, her passion lies in social justice, which has always been a part of her after being raised by interracial parents.
“I saw [Singh's parents] both deal with a lot of racism and discrimination,” said Singh. “A major part of my religious upbringing as a Sikh is to stand up for other people when there is injustice and to always strive to serve my community.”
Moreover, being raised in New Orleans also made her very aware of transgender people, and she said that this was in part due to the number of transgender communities that were in New Orleans.
This year is the study’s first year of data collection, and they are collecting 30 interviews at each of the three study sites in New York City at Columbia University, San Francisco at San Francisco State University and Atlanta at UGA.
“It is most important to see what transgender participants describe of their own life experiences of resilience and risk,” said Singh. “At the same time, we know that transgender people experience tremendous amounts of discrimination in society, so I am expecting to hear stories of loss and challenge that are punctuated by transgender resilience.”
Singh has focused her studies on transgender health and for the past 15 years, she has worked on the Trans Resilience Project. She studies transgender people's resilience to discrimination and oppression and trying to shape the ways that mental health professionals are educated about transgender issues in counseling and psychology.
She hopes to apply her knowledge of transgender health to the gender identity study.
"It's about creating better health outcomes for transgender people across the lifespan and ultimately reducing the massive amounts of discrimination they face," Singh said in a press release about the study.