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Brave Space Alliance announces major research project
--From press releases
2021-06-01

This article shared 739 times since Tue Jun 1, 2021
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CHICAGO, IL — On the first day of Pride in 2021, South Side LGBTQ Center Brave Space Alliance announced the beginning of a groundbreaking, community-centered research project, slated for mid-2022, and done in collaboration with Northwestern University. The project will be called the Chicago Area Trans Survey (CATS), and seeks to collect information from 30,000 trans individuals in Cook County on their experiences, needs, and lives. Brave Space Alliance's project aims to be the largest single-population data set collected to date on trans people as a group, and produce research that is directly useful to community members and community-based organizations. With the Chicago Area Trans Survey, trans people in Cook County will be able to demand that our needs be recognized, met, and addressed, and have the data to back it up. Brave Space Alliance is currently seeking funding to support the Survey, as well as community members to serve on a CATS Community Advisory Board, which is slated to begin meeting in August.

The Chicago Area Trans Survey will be performed with support from the Evaluation, Data Integration, and Technical Assistance (EDIT) Program at Northwestern University's Institute for Sexual and Gender Minority Health and Wellbeing, a nationwide leader in LGBTQ research and data reporting. The information collected by CATS will go far beyond the typical trans-focused survey, and will contain questions on sex and sexuality, how trans people define their families, where community members go for resources, and how trans people engage in politics, among many other areas of inquiry important to trans residents of Chicago and Cook County. Brave Space Alliance has stated that the goal is to begin data collection in the field in 2022, beginning on June 1st, and ending data collection on September 30th. Upon completion of the Survey, which plans to use a team of paid community leaders to canvas census-style in the field, BSA and Northwestern will release a CATS Guide, which will be freely available for use by other community-based organizations around the country, and contain insights and instructions to support trans-led organizations to conduct similar research in their own communities. "We want every small, trans-led organization in the country to be able to tell the stories of their community, and have the numbers to back it up," says LaSaia Wade, Founder and Executive Director of Brave Space Alliance. "National data isn't good enough for organizations like BSA, because it doesn't give us an accurate picture of what's happening in our states, our cities, our neighborhoods. Trans people know that if we want our truths heard, we have to tell the stories ourselves."

CATS was inspired by Brave Space Alliance's experience in struggling to obtain funding for the community center's crucial and innovative programming, due to a dearth of data attesting to the needs of the trans community. Particularly in Chicago, government offices have struggled to obtain quality, accurate information about trans communities; A 2017 report on LGBT Health by the Chicago Department of Public Health located only 45 trans respondents. Even worse, existing data gives little to no information about the positive elements of trans lives. "There is a significant lack of data on trans people, our lives, and how we live them," said Stephanie Skora, Associate Executive Director for Brave Space Alliance, "And the data that does exist is either several years old, or depressing; you learn more about the ways that trans people are discriminated against or killed, than anything else about us." BSA is hopeful that CATS will not only change the way that research is done about trans communities, but will finally provide trans residents of Chicago, and Cook County as a whole, with an accurate picture of their own community.

Brave Space Alliance is the first Black-led, trans-led LGBTQ Center located on the South Side of Chicago, dedicated to creating and providing affirming, culturally competent, for-us by-us resources, programming, and services for LGBTQ individuals on the South and West sides of the city. Founded in 2017, the organization has been responsible for major changes in policy, and has brought attention and care to the needs of Black and Brown trans people across Chicago. www.bravespacealliance.org .

From Northwestern: South Side LGBTQ center Brave Space Alliance launches Chicago Area Trans Surveyin collaboration with Northwestern University

CHICAGO —- South Side LGBTQ center Brave Space Alliance has launched a first-of-its-kind community-centered research project in collaboration with Northwestern University. Called the Chicago Area Trans Survey (CATS), the project aims to be the largest single-population data set collected to date on trans people as a group and will produce research useful to community members and community-based organizations.

The project will collect information from 30,000 trans individuals in Cook County on their experiences, needs and lives, which will provide trans people with data to back up requests for services and aid.

"So much of our current knowledge about transgender communities in the U.S. comes from non-representative studies that are rarely led by trans scholars or community members," said project collaborator Gregory Phillips II, assistant professor of medical social sciences at Northwestern. "CATS represents a much-needed shift in the way research has been done — moving away from research on to research by and for trans individuals."

CATS extends a collaborative relationship between Brave Space Alliance (BSA) and Northwestern's Institute for Sexual and Gender Minority Health and Wellbeing, a national leader in LGBTQ research. The Institute's Evaluation, Data Integration and Technical Assistance (EDIT) program has extensive experience in local community-centered research and evaluation, as well as the study of population-level health disparities among LGBTQ groups. Phillips is director of EDIT.

The information collected by CATS will contain questions on sex and sexuality, how trans people define their families, where community members go for resources and how trans people engage in politics, among many other areas of inquiry.

Upon completion of the survey, which will be administered by paid community leaders canvasing census-style in the field, a CATS Guide will be available free to other community-based organizations around the country. The guide will contain insights and instructions for trans-led organizations to conduct similar research in their own communities.

"We want every small, trans-led organization in the country to be able to tell the stories of their community and have the numbers to back it up," said LaSaia Wade, BSA founder and executive director. "National data isn't good enough for organizations like BSA, because it doesn't give us an accurate picture of what's happening in our states, our cities, our neighborhoods. Trans people know if we want our truths heard, we have to tell the stories ourselves."

BSA is seeking funding to support the survey as well as community members to serve on a CATS Community Advisory Board, slated to begin meeting in August.

CATS was inspired by BSA's experience in struggling to obtain funding for the community center's innovative programming due to a dearth of data attesting to the needs of the trans community. Particularly in Chicago, government offices have difficulty obtaining quality, accurate information about trans communities; A 2017 report on LGBT Health by the Chicago Department of Public Health located only 45 trans respondents.

In addition, existing data gives little to no information about the positive elements of trans lives.

"There is a significant lack of data on trans people, our lives, and how we live them," said Stephanie Skora, BSA associate executive director. "And the data that does exist is either several years old or depressing. You learn more about the ways that trans people are discriminated against or killed than anything else about us. We hope this survey will finally provide trans residents of Chicago and Cook County with an accurate picture of their own community."

Brave Space Alliance is the first Black-led, trans-led LGBTQ Center located on the South Side of Chicago, dedicated to creating and providing affirming, culturally competent, for-us by-us resources, programming, and services for LGBTQ individuals on the South and West sides of the city. Founded in 2017, the organization has been responsible for major changes in policy and has brought attention and care to the needs of Black and Brown trans people across Chicago.www.bravespacealliance.org

The Evaluation, Data Integration, and Technical Assistance (EDIT) Research Program at the Institute for Sexual and Gender Minority Health and Wellbeing within Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine is a local and national leader in LGBTQ health research and program evaluation. The EDIT team's mission is to foster a learning community to improve the health and wellbeing of sexual and gender minority populations in Chicago and beyond.isgmh.northwestern.edu/about/edit/ .


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