I regularly receive inquires from cis students and researchers writing papers about trans identity and experience. Some of these inquiries come from friends-of-friends, some come from students at institutions where I’ve presented workshops or performances, and some come through this blog or www.rebeccakling.com. As long as the inquiries are polite and respectful, I don’t have a problem with it. I generally offer feedback or suggestions and, if it seems appropriate, share their request for subjects on Facebook or this blog. I’ve been interviewed for student newspapers, dissertations on Jewish trans women, artistic projects on non-normative gender expression, and more.
Obviously, not everyone is going to have the same comfort level I do. That’s totally fine; to me, these interviews and conversations are part of the artistic and educational work I’m doing as an activist. I want competent voices speaking on trans identities, and no one is more qualified to tell my story than I am. If my voice helps create a better body of research, then I’m happy to contribute.
However, I’m starting to rethink my informal policy of talking to just about anyone. Like much of my work, speaking with journalists and researchers wasn’t something I set out to do; it grew organically out of other projects. But a recent influx of interview requests have made me rethink this open-door policy. After a lot of reflection, I’ve come up with a new set of guidelines. From now on, I will be declining to speak with anyone conducting research who cannot first answer the following questions to my satisfaction:
- How were trans people involved in the creation of this research project?
- How will trans people be involved in reviewing your conclusions?
- How will you ensure this research accurately captures the racial and class diversity in the trans community?
- How do you imagine this research will improve the lives of trans people?