Research and Data
Ultimately, the purpose of collecting data is to tell a story. And the data you choose to collect informs the depth of the stories you tell. A seasoned storyteller is able to make critical connections early in the research phase, and thus help you or your organization tell fuller, more humanizing stories about our communities.
As a psychology undergraduate student at Ramapo College, I learned the value of collecting robust data prior to starting a project. It’s much easier to clean up a data set after the fact and weed out the information you don’t need than to realize late in the game that you’re missing a critical data point. Clear, robust data is more than just numbers on a page: data helps us tell fuller stories, paint clearer pictures. And when the information we’re collecting is about trans lives, it helps us to paint vivid, more humanizing images of who trans people are.
I began tracking fatal anti-trans violence when I started as an intern at GLAAD in 2017. When I started, our data set included their name, age, and location, but I saw the opportunity to tell a fuller picture. I spent months researching recent and past cases, combing through articles, and ultimately bringing together a combination of publicly available information and demographics. That year, the data I helped collect culminated in GLAAD’s More Than a Number report, a guide to help journalists and community tell more humanizing stories about transgender victims of violence.
My tracking spreadsheet now holds robust data for the past 8 years of anti-trans violence and has formed the basis of at least six widely-shared special reports and Transgender Law Center’s current rapid response program. For just one example of this data in action, check out Transgender Law Center’s Roots of Anti-Trans Violence reports, which I co-authored as a consultant with TLC in early 2021.