Researching for LGBTQ Health

Community

What community means to us

Our research focuses on the needs and experiences of lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and queer (LGBTQ) people. We use the short form LGBTQ as an umbrella term to refer to the diverse and fluid sexual orientations and gender identities that people hold (including, for example, Two-Spirit, pansexual, and omnisexual (1)).We recognize that LGBTQ social identities and social locations can also overlap (for example, some people identify as both trans and queer), and are dynamic and changing. We also appreciate that there is no singular or homogenous LGBTQ community, but a variety of communities, as well as LGBTQ individuals who may not consider themselves part of any common “out” group.

As LGBTQ people, our identities also extend beyond sexual orientation and gender. We are also members of other social groups, based on status and relationships of race, ability, class, language, place of origin, and beliefs. These groups occupy a range of privileged and marginalized locations in society. We understand that it is the totality of social identities and social locations that influence people’s well-being, and affect our health care experiences. These social factors (also understood as the social determinants of health in government health policies) inform the research projects we undertake, the questions we ask, and the methods we use (2).

In our research practice, we work from an intersectional analysis of how various social identities and locations intersect to produce health outcomes for LGBTQ people. For us, this means that “community,” through community-based research (CBR), is at the heart of our practice (3). LGBTQ people are active participants, investigators, staff, research subjects and advisors on our all projects and committees. In short, our research praxis is grounded in our values: Social Justice and Anti-oppression, Working in partnership, Accountability, and Holistic Health.


Notes:

1. We define LGBTQ broadly. Use the links below to learn more about terms that are relevant to and that define various identities within the LGBTQ community:

Centre for Addiction and Mental Health

Asking the Right Questions 2: Glossary
Centre for Addiction & Mental Health

gladd

LGB Glossary of Terms
Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD)

glaad

Transgender Glossary of Terms
Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD)

LGBTTSQI Terminology
Eli Green & Eric N. Peterson

2. For more information about social determinants of health, see:

Public Health Agency of Canada

Public Health Agency of Canada
What determines health?

World Health Organization

World Health Organization
Social determinants of health

3. Community-based research (CBR) is “a collaborative approach to research that equitably involves all partners in the research process and recognizes the unique strengths that each brings. [CBR] begins with a research topic of importance to the community and has the aim of combining knowledge with action and achieving social change to improve health outcomes and eliminate health disparities.” –Definition developed and adopted by the Community Health Scholars Program based upon Israel, B.A., Schulz, A.J., Parker, E.A., & Becker, A.B. (1998). Review of Community-Based Research: Assessing Partnership Approaches to Improve Public Health. Ann. Rev. Public Health, 19, 173-202

Community-based research “must be about asking questions and examining the power dynamics that exist when some people speak and others are silent … [CBR] can transform the culture of silence among oppressed groups.” – Quote from page 88 of Chavez, V., Duran, B., Baker, Q.E., Avila, M.M., & Wallerstein, N. (2003). “The Dance of Race and Privilege in Community Based Participatory Research.” In Community Based Participatory Research for Health, edited by Meredith Minkler & Nina Wallerstein (pp. 81-97). San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.