‘We declare that research on transgender people must benefit transgender people’
Jack Reding (they, them)

That’s the last line of a letter to The Lancet, written by transgender advocates Brian Minalga, Cecilia Chung, J D Davids, Aleks Martin, Nicole Lynn Perry, and Alic Shook expressing their concerns about research involving transgender people.

The letter was published in the February 12 issue of The Lancet, written in response to articles previously published in the British medical journal, and to the frequent study of transgender people as objects of intrigue rather than as people. The letter states that rather than simply studying transgender people, they should be consulted and listened to. It also addresses how too often trans people are studied out of curiosity, rather than out of a desire to benefit the trans community. Citing recent conclusions made in the field of public health stating that transgender women partner with cisgender, heterosexual men, the letter illustrates how this kind of trans research can directly harm transgender people. These conclusions were arrived at through the use of HIV-molecular analyses and phylodynamic analyses, both of which “are reported to have alarming limitations, questionable ethics, and potentially harmful consequences.” In addition, they note that the finding might be “astonishing to the dominant research establishment,” but is well known in the community. The research also fuels transphobia.

The letter asks researchers studying transgender people to consider who this research is meant to benefit, and why it is being done. The main reason transgender people should be studied is to improve their lives and address their needs, the letter reasons. Existing knowledge held by the trans community can be accessed through communication instead of stigmatizing methods of analysis. Rather than conducting research on trans people which will harm them, research regarding trans people needs to support the community and its needs. 

Also see Why Are You Here?