The Friends Research Institute, based in Maryland, received $194,788
last month to begin the project operating on the premise that due to “transphobia” transgendered women are forced to use social media as an outlet, often leading to risky sexual behaviors.
“High-risk male-to-female transgender women (hereafter “transwomen”) face numerous concurrent cofactors for HIV acquisition and transmission including substance use, engagement in sex work, unemployment, low educational attainment, homelessness, and hormone misuse,” the grant’sdescription reads. “In Los Angeles County, estimates of HIV prevalence among transwomen are 15 [percent] overall, and 17 [percent] among Latinas, 29 [percent] among Native Americans, and 48 [percent] among African American/black transwomen.”
“As a result of discrimination/stigma, prejudice, and individual and structural forms of transphobia, transwomen form dense communities comprised primarily of other transwomen,” it said.
Facebook recently added more than50 gender optionsfor its users to choose from to accommodate transgendered individuals. Users can now identify as “Agender,” “Androgynous,” “Cis,” “Two-spirit,” orover 20 variationsof “trans.”
The latest government research project argues that transwomen use social network websites to “develop social support structures, connect with members of their community, receive positive and re- affirming perspectives on their gender identity, and inform behavioral norms.” They also use online groups to gain illegal hormones and find “sex work partners,” according to the grant.
The study will examine the use of these online resources and how they influence transgendered women’s behavior.