Methods

This research takes the form of an online ethnography. I am studying discussions of trans health within community and activist spaces through ‘participant observation’: i.e. as a member of those spaces. The idea is to gain a holistic understanding of discussions around trans health by participating in trans community life.

As a trans woman I have already been actively involved in many trans spaces for several years. I intend to draw upon my resulting knowledge and experience during the research process, whilst also reflecting critically upon my own role as a participant.

Much of my data will be obtained from open, public spaces, such as blog posts, Twitter, NHS documents and clinicians’ websites. I am also looking at discussions within closed, private spaces, but only where I have first sought access to the space by asking for permission to research there.

Respecting individual privacy is very important to me. If you don’t want me to conduct my research within your private space, I won’t conduct research there. If you are okay with me conducting research within a private space you visit but don’t want me to use anything you’ve said, I won’t use anything you’ve said.

I will anonymise all material from private spaces, and will not directly cite any conversation from a private space within my writing without first gaining explicit permission from those involved in the conversation.

Most of the discussions I observe and pages I read will be used to inform my broader understanding of discourses surrounding trans health. However, I will also be examining certain public discussions and documents in more depth using a thematic discourse analysis. This method entails the identification of key themes in order to better understand how various ideas are understood and used both within and between different individuals and texts.

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