Sexual and Mental Health and Wellness: Trans Feminine Community in Lebanon
Rachel L. Kaplan, PhD, MPH; Cynthia El Khoury, MPH
People can speak for themselves! All those involved in our study, which we will discuss in the second half of the workshop, are from the trans feminine community in Lebanon, with the exception of the Research Director and Principal Investigator. Because of intense transphobia, most participants are understandably not comfortable sharing images of themselves with the public. We therefore will share some video clips of trans folks speaking for themselves about their experiences as well as other clips that provide some cultural context of Middle Eastern environments and transnational geopolitical policies.
Discussion of research process, challenges, and results. We will address the following questions and encourage active participation. What is the best way to describe this community (terminology, language, identity formation, origins)? What does the community want and need (via focus groups, interviews, community advisory board meetings)? Why was a sexual and mental health intervention adapted (community connectedness, family, gender affirmation)? What challenges were experienced and lessons were learned by the community, participants, and research team (mobility, borders, and global policies within Lebanon and the region; activism movement and NGOs; ethics, transparency, commitment to trans leadership)?
Rachel L. Kaplan, PhD, MPH, Assistant Professor in the Bixby Center for Global Reproductive Health at the University of California, San Francisco and Affiliate Faculty at SFSU’s CREGS, is trained in Public Health and Social Science with experience in sexual and mental health and HIV prevention and treatment in the Middle East and North Africa. With a focus on international HIV prevention among key populations, Dr. Kaplan is interested in the intersections of risk, gender, sexuality, conflict, and health. Having worked on HIV research in the region since 2006, Dr. Kaplan is PI of an NIMH-funded study to determine potential strategies for addressing sexual and mental health risk among transgender women in Lebanon.
Cynthia El Khoury, MPH received her Master’s degree from the American University of Beirut. Her work in Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR) started in 2008 when she compiled an informal registry of “sex-positive” physicians designed by and for queer women and gender nonconforming folks to safely navigate the Lebanese medical system. She has led SRHR trainings for activists, front-line workers, healthcare workers, and key stakeholders and designed and implemented a health intervention with and for trans individuals. She is currently Associate Director at the Arab Foundation for Freedoms and Equality and the Research Director of Baynetna and Mpowerment in Lebanon.