Tuesday, April 10, 2018

URSP Student Fareshta Jan Researches the Association of Stress, Violence, and Discrimination at the Intersection of Gender Identity and Race/Ethnicity

My interest in public health was sparked after participating in the DC Public Health Case Challenge during fall of 2017. I reached out to a faculty member who is an affiliate with Women and Gender Studies, where I work, and asked about potential research studies related to gender identity/expression and public health. Since healthcare has been constantly evolving, I was extremely curious about health-related issues in marginalized communities and wanted to explore how LGBTQ+ health and well-being was being addressed. Through my preliminary literature review, I  was surprised to learn that there were very limited research studies on mental health in the transgender community.

Along with my mentor, Dr. Lisa Lindley, we decided to perform a secondary analysis using American Public Health Association (ACHA) Spring 2015 data. ACHA is a nationally recognized research survey program that collects data about students’ health habits, behaviors, and perceptions. The aim of the study was to utilize statistical analysis to examine the association of violence, depression, and discrimination with depression and self-harm among transgender college students compared to cisgender college students. Every week, we would analyze the data results and discuss if there was any correlation between rates of depressive symptoms and verbal/physical/sexual assault amongst the two cohorts.

As a prospective future physician, I hope that by learning about the limitation that exists in our database and existing studies, we can place further emphasis regarding the importance of research in marginalized communities to assess their needs and improve their overall health and well-being. In the end, we hope that our result will shed light on the important numbers and help reform campus climate for the transgender community.