IN THE NEWS: Unique study compares health of LGB age groups


The Bay Area Reporter

by Matthew S. Bajko


A unique study enrolling participants in the Bay Area is comparing the health and well-being of lesbian, gay, and bisexual people in three distinct age groups.

The Generations Study is affiliated with the California Center for Population Research at UCLA and is funded by a five-year $3.4 million federal grant from the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development.

In conjunction with the Generations study, researchers at the Williams Institute at UCLA School of Law, Columbia University and the Fenway Institute at Fenway Health are looking at similar health issues in various age groups of transgender people.

Researchers involved in the project say it is the first to take a historical approach to examining how different generations of LGBT people have been impacted by both discrimination based on their sexual orientation or gender identity and the advancement of rights won by the LGBT community during their lifetimes.

"No study has been done like this before," said Phillip L. Hammack, an associate professor and vice chair of the Department of Psychology at UC Santa Cruz who is one of the Generations study's seven investigators. "The vast majority of research on LGBT people doesn't take a historical perspective. What I mean is, for example, most research out there focuses on people's experience in the moment."


For the full article click here



LOS ANGELES — Researchers at the Williams Institute at UCLA School of Law, Columbia University and The Fenway Institute at Fenway Health are launching a first-of-its-kind study of the transgender population in the United States that they expect will create a more accurate and detailed picture of the issues faced by transgender individuals.

The study, which is being led by Ilan H. Meyer, Williams Senior Scholar of Public Policy at the Williams Institute, will provide researchers and policymakers with unbiased estimates about the demographics, health outcomes and health care needs of the transgender population by relying on a randomly selected sample of the U.S. population. The study, titled “TransPop: U.S. Transgender Population Health Survey,” also will provide insights into the methodology of surveying transgender people.

“With awareness about transgender people growing in the public and among researchers and policymakers, there are new opportunities to establish policies that address the needs of transgender people in the United States,” said Meyer, the study’s principal investigator. “Timely and accurate data about the transgender population is crucial for designing evidence-based public health and policy interventions.”

To date, most of what researchers know about the transgender population comes from studies that do not use random selection methods, Meyer said. While those studies have provided valuable information about transgender lives, they may not accurately represent the population.

Goals for the study include:

• To describe basic demographic parameters of the U.S. transgender population including race/ethnicity, gender identity, age, place of residence, education, employment, and income.

• To describe basic health outcomes and health behaviors, including general health status, mental health, smoking, history of suicide attempts, disability, quality of life and health care access (including insurance coverage).

• To describe experiences of transgender people with interpersonal and institutional discrimination, including experiences in healthcare, employment, housing and law enforcement.

• To describe transgender identity history and transition-related experiences, including access to gender-affirming mental health services, hormone treatment and surgery, when relevant.

The findings from the study will show how various groups of transgender people differ and to what degree. That level of detail could highlight concerns that were previously underreported and help service providers develop more targeted programs.

The researchers will use a survey of 350,000 U.S. adults, conducted by Gallup, a global survey organization that delivers analytics and advice. Gallup survey participants will be screened during a one-year period, and those who identify as transgender will be invited to participate in the TransPop study. The researchers estimate that 300-500 transgender-identified individuals will participate.

In addition to Meyer, TransPop investigators are Jody Herman, scholar of public policy at the Williams Institute; Dr. Walter Bockting, professor of medical psychology and co-director of the LGBT Health Initiative at Columbia University; and Sari Reisner, research fellow, department of epidemiology at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and research scientist at The Fenway Institute at Fenway Health. The study is affiliated with UCLA’s California Center for Population Research.

More information about the Transpop Study can be found

The study is supported by the NIH Office of Social and Behavioral Science and is part of “Generations,” a larger five-year study funded by a federal grant from the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (1R01HD078526) to the Williams Institute.

Welcome to the Generations Study!

How do the experiences of young LGB people today differ from those who came out a generation ago?  Is high school bullying a common experience for LGB youth?  Is it something that more uniquely describes the lives of young LGB people or has it affected the lives of LGB people across generations?   Are young LGB people healthier than older LGB people as a result of living in a world with less discrimination and stigma?  How common are experiences of prejudice and discrimination in the lives of LGB people in the United States?  What kinds of challenges to LGB people experience in accessing health care?  These are just some of the questions that the Generations study comes to address.  

The study has both a qualitative and quantitative (survey) components.  In the survey research we aim to assess three cohorts in relation to their identity as LGB individuals and their experience of stress related to homophobia and everyday forms of discrimination and compare patterns of utilization of social and health services.  Respondents representing the Black, Latino, and White U.S. LGB populations will participate in a survey over a 5-year period to detect changes related to social environment and aging.   In the qualitative study, we ask respondents to tell us their narrative life histories.  Respondents will be Black, Latino, White, Asian, and American Indian LGB individuals living in urban and non-urban regions of New York, California, and Arizona.

The researchers and scientific advisors are excited about the promise of the new Generations study because it has two distinct benefits: First, we are studying a nationally representative sample of LGB individuals, so we can more accurately than most research on LGB individuals describe not only the issues but also how prevalent they are in the United States.  Second, because it is a study that focuses on LGB individuals, rather than include them in a large sample of the U.S. population, we are able to address very specific questions concerning the lives and health of LGB persons that other general national health studies do not address in detail.  

The study was launched in September 2014 and we have been hard at work preparing for the data collection phase.  The qualitative data collection is beginning in March 2015 and the survey data collection is planned for July 2015.   Check this space for news about our progress in the future.  


-Ilan Meyer

Principal Investigator