Safety, belonging and mental health: Understanding the intersections between violence, place, and mental health in the lives of transgender and gender nonconforming people

Studies reveal that transgender and gender non-conforming people experience pervasive and multiple forms of violence in numerous public and private places, suggesting they may be more vulnerable to violence across their lifespan than the general population.

This study will develop knowledge about the intersections between violence, gender identity/expression, place, and mental health in the lives of transgender and gender non-conforming people. It will investigate the strategies people use to prevent and resist violence and maintain their mental health. The study will also explore how different geographic contexts, gender discrimination, racism, and/or poverty undermine or enhance safety, belonging, resiliency, and mental health.

The proposed study will use Photovoice, a community-based participatory research method that combines photography, dialogue, and social action. The study will be conducted in two sites (Vancouver and the Okanagan Valley) in order to investigate similarities and differences between large and smaller cities. This research will include in-depth, semi-structured photo-elicitation interviews and focus groups where participants will discuss the meanings and stories portrayed in the photographs.

This research will provide an in-depth understanding of how the enforcement of gender norms impacts the mental health and well-being of Canadians. It will have broad implications for the development of best practices and protocols for trauma-informed and gender-sensitive services, health promotion, and violence prevention/intervention in marginalized communities.