ARK Seminar: The Missing T: Baselining Attitudes Towards Transgender People in Northern Ireland

ARK Seminar: The Missing T: Baselining Attitudes Towards Transgender People in Northern Ireland



to be able to get through this presentation my name's Eli I'm from Austin University thanks very much for coming along as Paula says that this aspect of the presentation will be recorded and in this aspect I'll give a bit of background and context to trans in Northern Ireland society she Ramallah and present some of the data and then we'll look at kind of lessons learned from doing this and going forward and then we'll turn off the record and we can have some more of a discussion and some Q&A around them so while part of the LGBTQ acronym the Tay has often been overlooked or more generally subsumed within discourse research and services as such the focus has primarily been on sexual identity LGB rather than gender identity T therefore when we talk about LGBTQ this hasn't always been reflective of transgender individuals interests and topics this briefing therefore seeks to explicitly focus on gender identity reporting on public attitudes in northern arm towards transgender people and I suppose it's at this point radio disclaimer and that is what we can and can't do with the data that's presented what survey D it allows us to do is provide you an insight into self-reported attitudes towards transgender people access and rights so that's what the survey data allows us to do what it doesn't allow us to do however is to provide an insight into the experiences of transgender individuals within society and this is really significant and worth pointing out at the outset today because as you'll see as we go throughout the presentation public attitudes towards transgender people may appear to be somewhat out of sync with the experiences of transgender people themselves and what research tells us on that front so it's about setting the parameters of what this survey did it can and can't do in terms of what we're presenting today it's really helpful therefore to have a number of LGB and T organizations here today who are in a position to talk to the everyday experiences of transgender people living in Northern Ireland like I said the survey data speaks only to self-reported levels of prejudice within the general population in recent times we've witnessed unprecedented levels of interests in matter of gender and sexuality and diversity the historic framing of sex within medicine and biology is now supplemented with less fixed contemporary perspectives on gender identity as such monroe and warren note the transgender identities are complex and contested even within the transgender community there's no consistent definition but rather what pearce refers to as fragmented pathways to trans becomings in other words as some activist groups claims there's no one way to be trans more often or not therefore we start to see general definitions such as this being used to try and capture the broad range of identities and gender presentations that fall under a trans umbrella language and understanding about gender and identity is constantly evolving however so while definitions such as this aim to be inclusive of diverse identities we know that there's a use of a whole host of other range of labels to try and capture other diverse identities under this umbrella trans transexual queer non-binary all being used on other times it can just be this simple and interchangeable use of labels in short we recognize that labels are leaden with multiple meanings for people we are deliberate therefore in our use of the language of transgender throughout the presentation today as that is the language of the survey and the questions that were based around that will also reference T throughout and the missing T the name of the paper and this speaks to a missing gripping within the wider LGBT gripping rather than a kind of a lazy shorthand so we hope you appreciate and understand that when we reference teeth write that that's where that's coming from like I said the name of the paper is the missing T and while we stand by that and hopefully that will become really clear as we go throughout the presentation it may be argued that have you been watching social media watching the TV or things like that over the last way that rather than it being missing that actually the tea is exploding on television and social media for a number of different reasons but I suppose just because we've had a flurry of activity in the last year or so doesn't mean that trance has always been to the forefront so I want to start by thinking about that missing tea as previously mentioned the tea was often sidelined or absent within LGBT organizations Ruth hunt who was the CEO of the LGBT charity Stonewall commented that they were led to the Gihon in supporting the trans community similarly within research that which claimed to be LGBT and focus again often sidelined the experiences of trans people by having really small trans subsamples or not having trans within the sample at all but claiming it to be LGBT or presenting material in a way that you couldn't distinguish between sexual identities and gender identities and why LGB people share some of the experiences of trans people in terms of minority identities we do recognize that there are different experiences there as well and those need to be specifically identified and cold.i so the missing T then leads us on to an increased focus on T and a recognition from within the LGBT sector that there are specific inequalities and experiences of trans individuals that need to be addressed but the increased focus on T is also resulted because of grassroots trans activists who are increasing Lisa speaking out avoid inequalities and fearsome trans individuals and while this increased focus has been useful in informing public attitudes or speaking out about continued inequalities or calling for the extension of legal protections for trans individuals and it's also been used at times to fuel public panic with the rights of transgender people being set against or pitted against the rights of the known transgender population and this has been exemplified in high recent and high-profile recent to be it's around the use of toilets transgender women accessing domestic violence refuges is gender self-identity Kishen and trans women within competitive sports so might be helpful for a moment just to consider the way in which the public are informed around issues of of trans and transgendered in contemporary society some of you will be more aware of some of these storylines and others but in the top right hand side we see Caitlyn Jenner and Laverne Cox high-profile American celebrities who are both transgender and so we see a very glamorized a very sexualized presentation of a trans a trans identity there's a whole host however of other graphic headlines that could be used to highlight the media's fixation with how the body is changed through medicine or through surgery or through other or other ways and actually the stories of caitlyn jenner and Laverne Cox focusing increasingly on gender reassignment surgery who they're dealing and storylines like that within general entertainment this kind of Minton middle column we start to see a witness witness an increase of transgender storylines with in Coronation Street East Anders docu soups like my transsexual summer the television program butterfly such portrayals of transgender people bring this into everyday life perhaps in a way that's less glamorized and however some would argue that this actually can feel public panic and concern as well because the likes of the the butterfly program you know and focusing on transitioning of children and again this being used to fuel a panic amongst the general population other high-profile stories just this week so LGBT ambassador and for Childline monroe Bergdorf a trans activist and model being publicly removed from this model from this role after social media pressurized and the NSPCC about the appropriateness of this person as a as a spokesperson for further organization other ways in which trans has been brought to public consciousness perhaps has been through the consultation on the gender recognition Act in England and Wales and this has been significant in increasing public knowledge around transgender rights and access more often or not like I said this has been used to pit the the rights and experiences of one group or another and these conversations have quickly become focused on questions of self-identification and the use of toilets refugees and prisons we've also seen the reclassification of transgender within the World Health Organization prevalent previously listed within the mental health chapter gender in congruence as it's now being referred to has been moved to the sexual health chapter as a result of increased understanding about trans identities but also because of an awareness of the previous classification in the stigma did this caused so why don't stories like this like I say have brought transgender people and trans and related issues and access to public consciousness and such media attention has also fuelled the panic and we've seen that in terms of this vĂ¡monos issues of safety the rights of one group over another and it's in light of these often contradictory ways in which public attitudes and debates on issues are presented that this research update provides an overview of contemporary public attitudes in Northern Ireland that's by way of a very long introduction to it to the data but we're going to present some of that 9 so given what I said about the discussion around the increasingly diverse identities presented under a transgender umbrella defining transgender in a way that the general public can understand poses particular challenges for survey data survey research requires definitions and questions that are understandable to a broad audience it's difficult therefore to ask questions that would fully reflect the variance of gender identities an attempt to provide direct comparison with the rest of the UK the 2018 Northern Ireland tames survey utilized some of the definitions and questions used in the 2016 British social attitudes survey these adopted the language of gender identity questions previously developed and tested with groups of trans and non trans people and while there are still limitations to the questions and the definitions this actually helps provide a baseline for Northern Ireland two attitudes that we can compare against in the future the British social attitudes survey on the Northern Ireland life and times survey used the following definition people who are transgender have gone through all or part of a process including thoughts or actions to change the sex they were described as at birth to the gender they identify with or intend to this might include by changing their name wearing different clothes taking hormones or having gender reassignment surgery so I guess a despite some of the limitations with definition and how those questions are asked to a general public we nonetheless argue that this is really important to start to track public attitudes and Siobhan's not gonna go through as some of that with us and so what I want to do now is present some of the Deardon ideas given a bit of the background and some of the data from a survey on public attitudes towards transgender people and in doing that what I also want to try and do is illustrate why it's actually important to ask specific questions about public attitudes towards transgender people so we're doing this through a kind of notion of five reasons why we might have borrowed the notion of five not quite twelve reasons from elsewhere but trying to try and frame this discussion again to reveal what we can actually kind of find out about public attitudes if we ask very specific questions about transgender rather than LGBT and kind of clump issues together so of course a scale as already alluded to the first reason why we should ask cific questions about attitudes towards transgender people it's because we haven't done so before as Paula says at the beginning the Northern Ireland life in Tyne Surrey has asked some questions in the past about public perceptions about inequality towards different groups including transgender people but it hasn't asked specific questions about public attitudes themselves divorce transgender people and transgender issues so the point is that we need to make the questions explicit if we actually want to find out really what people think or what people think they think and so the Northern Ireland life and time survey has for example and asked questions in the past bite attitudes towards LGBT people and attitudes towards LGBT rights and that's really important because what we've been able to do through that data is to track over time changes in attitudes and patterns and attitudes and the assumption often is then that those attitudes extend to the dran gender population but the fact is we actually don't know so despite the fact that the data shows that attitudes towards LGBT people have become more accepting within Northern Ireland we don't know if this extends to transgender people so utilizing the definition that Gail are presented at the beginning their survey respondents were asked to read their level of prejudice towards people who are transgender and this is what the results show so again we're thinking about the question that people are asked to read their own level of prejudice so seven out of ten respondents seventy-two percent of respondents described themselves as not prejudiced at all while twenty-one percent expressed some level of prejudice they said they were either very prejudiced or a little prejudiced so there's a couple of things here firstly to note that the British social attitudes survey asked exactly the same question and they had higher levels of people and defining themselves as not prejudiced than the Northern Ireland sample and the other thing I suppose we should say here is that you know we might be quite skeptical about measures of self defined prejudice and you know who after all is going to admit their prejudice and or can we actually even recognize our own prejudice but I think what is interesting here is despite caveat 21% of people so still a significant minority of people do recognize their own prejudice or openly are willing to openly defying their own prejudice so there is value in asking these sorts of questions what they're also is is there some interesting differences across the sample and this brings us to our second reason why it's important to ask specific questions at public attitude surveys allow us to examine how attitudes may vary across a range of demographic factors so they help us take down to Phi the characteristics of those who do to find themselves as prejudiced and so and this is important because like Gil said at the beginning despite the fact that the D etre here might overall show that people define themselves as less prejudiced and the wider evidence das suggests that people who transgender continue to experience prejudice likewise in 2016 in Northern Ireland life and time survey did ask the public did they think transgender people along with a number of other minority groups did they think they were treated unfairly or on equally so there is recognition by the public 48% and felt that transgender people were treated unfairly in comparison to other groups so they're tailors tend to be a recognition among the public that transgender people may be treated unfairly even if individuals themselves don't think that they may be prejudiced but what then are the characteristics of those people who do openly define themselves as prejudice towards transgender people and this is where I find there's you know really some interesting findings from the data so these are people who define themselves as either very prejudiced or a little prejudiced so what we see from the data here have tried to highlight the key findings is that females are less prejudiced than meals that the youngest age group and the oldest age group report more prejudiced than the age groups in the middle they're 25 to 54 year old those who identifies belonging to a Catholic religion are less prejudiced than those identified in as belonging to a Protestant religion or as having no religion and perhaps what was most interesting from this data is that knowing someone those people who know someone who are truant who's transgender are much less likely to report prejudice than somebody who doesn't know somebody who's transgender so there's very important messages here in terms of social contact and we see there's almost three times the read of self defined prejudice among those who have no social contact with people who trans trans gender and than those that do so we may think ok some of these findings are not overly surprising if we look at other attitudinal as data we do often find that women are more accepting the man and other research has also demonstrated that levels of social contact impact on our levels of prejudice of different minority groups what perhaps is more surprising is some of the data here around age and religion we might for example have expected the youngest age group and those with no religion to be less prejudiced than reported here indeed if we look at Northern Ireland life and times data on attitudes towards lesbian gay and bisexual people and LGB issues what we see there is that the youngest age group and those with no religion are actually among the groups who have the most positive attitudes so this does again demonstrate the importance of asking specific questions about attitudes towards LGBT people and attitudes towards transgender people what I suppose we need to remember here as Paula said at the beginning is this is one year's data more generally we have data over time and we're able to look for patterns so we don't know if there's going to be a pattern in this but I think you know there's some interesting things to point out here ok so our third reason then for focusing specifically on on the T or asking individuals attitudes specifically on transgender issues is as just alluded to there is that attitudes towards gender identity may actually differ from attitudes towards sexual identity it's often assumed that if people rick are accepting of LGBT people and LGBT rights that they're also accepting of trans people and trans rights and vice-versa and perhaps Saskia says we assume this because we haven't got the data to disaggregate this or we can flip minority gender identities with minority sexual identities and I suppose it's important to say that while this survey this year didn't ask a specific question to individuals to self rate their prejudice on LGB identity or LGBT people it did ask questions about LGBT issues so it asked a question about an acceptance of same-sex relations so we've taken that almost as our proxy measure for attitudes towards LGB people in order that we can do some level of comparison and again there's some interesting findings here what we find is it across all measures whether it was age religious and identification gender church attendance and I think of some of the other majors educational level that we actually find higher levels of non acceptance of CM sex sexual relations than self-identified prejudice towards transgender people and if we look at this in a little bit more detail and if we compare self-identified prejudice towards transgender people with public attitudes towards same-sex relations and public attitudes towards marriage equality the differences maybe become a little more evident here what we see in this table is that 30 percent 38 percent of people who think that same-sex relations are wrong so over a third of those who think that same-sex relations are wrong one 36 percent of those who don't support marriage equality again over a third defining cells is not prejudice towards transgender people so again what we're seeing here is a significant proportion of people who maybe may say are not accepting of LGB issues or equality issues do you appear accepting of transgender people so we can't assume than the lack of acceptance of some minority groups or issues acquits with lack of acceptance towards other groups now of course as I said at the beginning there's a caveat here in terms of the questions in going forward it might be more useful to ask exactly the same questions so as we have a better reliable come Harrison here but again we see the difference in separating our attitudes towards gender minority and sexual minority issues a scale said also at the beginning there's been a number of high-profile policy debates regarding trans rights that have received a lot of media coverage and most notably these have been in terms of access to public toilets the rates of child transgender people to access domestic violence refuges and the rates to change the sex marker on their birth certificate and in these stories and sound bites were often presented with very emotive and polarized positions and what we find is that often these views and positions arts are kind of almost pitted as evidence or symbolic of what public attitudes are and for us this is the fourth reason for why it's really important that we collect robust data on public attitudes on these issues these are the things that we're talking about that are in the media at the moment again another table so this per table presents some of the findings in relation to these questions so both the BSA the British social attitudes survey and the an alt the Northern Ireland's life in times survey asked identical questions and of a level of comfort with transgender people using public toilets and refuges the question about use of female toilets was asked to females only and the question about use of meal toilets was asked to meals only the question on changing birth certificate was worded slightly differently in both surveys and I do think that has an impact perhaps in some of the findings in the Northern Ireland – times survey reflecting the law and individuals were asked for their level of approval of transgender people changing their birth certificate after two years of living in their acquired gender the British social attitudes survey however asked a much more general question and they asked more generally about levels of approval of an individual's right to change their birth certificate so there was no caveat at with that so what we see here if we look at some of this data perhaps one of first things we see and which is important to point out is that there are differences in levels of acceptance among the Northern Ireland sample and the British sample and that's quite evident in some areas and more than others what we also see however and perhaps quite surprisingly given the media discourse is that over half of the sample in Northern Ireland in relation to every one of the scenarios said that they are accepting so that they are comfortable or accepting of trans people accessing public toilets domestic violence refuges are necessary and having the right to change their birth certificate now of course the important thing to remember is if over half approve are comfortable that doesn't mean the other half don't approve are uncomfortable actually in all scenarios no more than 3 in 10 people reported that they were uncomfortable or disapproved of these rights for transgender people so again just to reiterate that these statistics are important because they demonstrate that attitudes might not be as negative as what we often hear and in the media what they also demonstrate and which is more evident I think from the from the research update themselves is that attitudes are actually very nuanced it's very difficult to find any clear patterns within the data and this would be the value of continuing this survey so we can't say for sure that you know young people are more accepting or less accepting of particular issues we can't say that somebody who would support use of refuges would also support your sartorial 'its so there's some real nuances within the data which is completely missed in a lot of the the media discourse in this and this brings us to our final reason then why we should focus on the T and on what this data has generated why it's important for us we think that this data actually can be very valuable it can allow us to speak back to or to trouble some of the very powerful claims being made by particular groups or within the media about risks being posed of the extension of transgender rights there is often assumption smeared about who's accepting and who's on accepting who is at risk if and rates are extended for example in response to the consultation and updating the gender recognition I can act in England and Wales were by the Raposa Liz that individuals can self identify their gender so without a medical diagnosis or without having to get proof that they've been living within an acquired gender champions such as this by fire fair play from a woman have suggested that such such changes would in their words Road women and girls of their rights and that female rights and safety are under attack so the way in which this has been spoken about often leads us to believe that woman are at risk that they need to safeguarding and they may lose out and I guess the point worth saying is that these are based on assumptions and now what we have is some very particular data which actually lets us disaggregate to think about well what are the views of females and meals on these issues so again if we break down the responses by gender we find two things that I think are really interesting at firstly in all of those scenarios so public access to toilets to domestic violence refuges and the right to change a birth certificate in all of the scenarios females are more accepting than males and actually really interested alongside knowing someone who is transgender that's the actually the only factor that is consistently correlated with more accepting attitudes so as I said it's been really difficult to look in the deer to say one groups more accepting of everything more generally but actually consistently females were more accepting along with people who know someone who's transgender and then secondly if we look at statistics and sounds in relation to each of these scenarios we also see that actually a woman report hi fairly high levels of comfort unacceptance and this is particularly noticeable I think in relation to years of domestic violence refuges whereby 64 percent of females said that they were comfortable comfortable with a transgender woman using a domestic violence refuge its ever experiencing domestic violence so again welcome peon such as those we have just illustrated may fuel public panic and concern research like this actually shines a more robust and a scientific light on what the public actually think so for us these are some of the reasons why it's important that we tease out some of these issues overall the data as we said may imply that public attitudes towards transgender people are fairly positive what are also doors when you get a chance to look at the data is it shows the nuances and attitudes and it also highlights us to us that we need to be looking at this over time not just on one incident instance and this is what girls going to talk about now a little bit she's going to wrap up by thinking about what we've learned from doing the survey and what might be some of the ways forward she one had her five reasons why I observe you five reasons as well but I just can do so but four and four four things to think about going forward I suppose the first thing is that we recognize that we need to ask questions that not just allow people to report on self-identified prejudice but gets to some of the hidden prejudice that individuals might have as well the BS a study sought to do that by asking do you describe yourself as prejudice followed by questions that recorded levels of acceptance to transgender people in public roles so for example as a teacher or a police officer things like that and questions like that might help with maybe better indicators of prejudice than self defined ratings and we recognize that and this is particularly important like we said at the outset because the experiences of trans people seem to be somewhat out of sync with some of what's being presented so perhaps some of the questions going forward could consider that in ways that we would get to that hidden prejudice we feel that future research would also benefit from collaboration with the trans sector for a number of reasons and firstly kind of in framing what some of those issues might be that could be explored and secondly around the wording of survey questions the language that surveys use are really important and one like we said at the start but needs to be accessible to people but we can also see some of the limitations of some of the definitions that are used so there needs to be some sort of conversation around hi we can free em questions that are accessible but get to the the range of identities and that's no easy feat but one that that's important because actually how researchers talk and the questions that they use perhaps in part in forms of public understanding of something so if you've never really thought about something before how researcher asks you a question perhaps then becomes your way of understanding that's what becomes really significant and given the definition of trans used at the beginning and the questions around diverse identities we recognize that future studies need to develop questions that would allow us to capture more fluid non-binary identities as well and within those public surveys and finally despite the issues that we've flagged around definitions and some of those questions this we believe is really significant and that it's the first attitudes public attitudes survey and on trans issues in Northern Ireland the survey is collective public attitudes towards other minority and social issues over time and we've been able as Siobhan said to be able to go back and to track that how things changed or not changed with regards to some other attitudes and we we haven't had the the the the baseline to do that and what this survey does noise provide that baseline and going forward that we can start to measure things against thank you [Applause] [Applause]

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