Talk to the Veterans Crisis Line now
U.S. flag
An official website of the United States government

VA Health Systems Research

Go to the VA ORD website
Go to the QUERI website
HSRD Conference Logo

2023 HSR&D/QUERI National Conference Abstract

Printable View

2003 — Conducting impactful and relevant research with underrepresented populations: perspectives of transgender and gender diverse Veterans

Lead/Presenter: Alyson Littman,  COIN - Seattle/Denver
All Authors: Littman AJ (Seattle-Denver COIN) Boyer TL (Center for Health Equity Research and Promotion, VA Pittsburgh Healthcare System, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania) Wolfe HL(Center for Healthcare Organization and Implementation Research, VA Bedford Healthcare System, Bedford, MA) Neira P (Veteran Engagement Group member) Blosnich JR (Center for Health Equity Research and Promotion, VA Pittsburgh Healthcare System, Pittsburgh, PA)

HSR and D prioritizes identifying and addressing health disparities. For research with and about underrepresented populations to be relevant and impactful, meaningful involvement of members of those communities in all phases of research is essential. Though VA has encouraged the use of Veteran Engagement Groups (VEGs), there are practical and philosophical barriers to building and sustaining trust and collaboration, especially among underrepresented Veteran populations who have been historically disenfranchised. This forum will leverage both Veteran and researcher perspectives involved in VA studies with transgender and gender diverse individuals to achieve the following objectives: (1) outline barriers and facilitators to research participation, (2) share lessons about promoting psychological safety to create/sustain a VEG and research participation while being cognizant of emotional labor, (3) identify system/resource constraints that vex engagement and (4) recommend strategies to overcome barriers to engagement.


The population of focus is transgender and gender diverse Veterans.

): The forum will begin with sharing perspectives/experiences of Veterans and researchers involved in research related to the health and well-being of transgender and gender diverse Veterans. Examples of discussion questions are: • For Veterans with marginalized identities, what are the costs of visibility when collaborating on research studies? • Labor requires you to manage your feelings and expressions to fill the emotional requirements of a job, which may also mean alienating yourself from your feelings. As Veterans and researchers, how do we account for the emotional labor of being a representative/translator for people from your community? o What resources can/should researchers to appropriately compensate Veterans for their emotional labor and vulnerability? o How can we create environments that support psychological safety? • How do we balance desires for serving/helping other Veterans (i.e., honing activism) while navigating the demands and requirements of research? • What kinds of institutional or administrative barriers complicate the processes of engagement (e.g., system/resource constraints, regulatory policies or procedures, operational uncertainties)? o What kinds of solutions – either formal or “home grown” – have worked for your teams and settings? • Imagine you’ve completed your funded research project. How would the researcher answer the question “What now?” How would the Veteran answer the question “What now?”

The target audience is VA leadership, researchers, and Veterans. Audience members interested in improving the health and meaningful involvement of marginalized populations should attend. Those interested in health equity research with LGBTQ+ communities are especially encouraged to attend, though lessons from this forum will translate to building and maintaining research partnerships with other Veteran populations of interest.