Abstract: Factors Associated with Advocacy and Political Engagement Among U.S. Transgender People of Color: A Latent Class Approach (Society for Social Work and Research 26th Annual Conference - Social Work Science for Racial, Social, and Political Justice)

104P Factors Associated with Advocacy and Political Engagement Among U.S. Transgender People of Color: A Latent Class Approach

Thursday, January 13, 2022
Marquis BR Salon 6, ML 2 (Marriott Marquis Washington, DC)
* noted as presenting author
Meghan Romanelli, PhD, Assistant Professor, University of Washington, Seattle, WA
Gahwan Yoo, MA, PhD Student, New York University, NY
Kimberly D. Hudson, PhD, Assistant Professor, Fordham University Graduate School of Social Service, New York, NY
Michael A. Lindsey, PhD, MSW, MPH, Executive Director; School's Constance and Martin Silver Professor of Poverty Studies, McSilver Institute for Poverty Policy and Research, New York, NY
Background: Decisions to participate in advocacy/political activities are complex for transgender (trans*) individuals, who may face unique barriers. Barriers to participation can be exacerbated for trans* individuals with multiply marginalized identities, including trans* people of color. Desire to challenge inequities, however, can drive engagement. Although some research indicates that involvement in advocacy/political efforts may expose trans* individuals to discrimination (resulting in heightened psychological distress), trans* people of color have also identified advocacy/political engagement as a health-promoting strength and imperative to the future orientation and resiliency of community members. This study explores patterns of participation in advocacy/political activities among trans* people of color via latent class analysis (LCA) to identify subpopulations who may be engaged or disengaged in certain advocacy/political processes. By investigating demographic and psychosocial predictors of class membership, we can determine potential barriers and facilitators to advocacy/political engagement types.

Methods: This study utilized data from the 2015 US Transgender Survey (USTS). Eleven advocacy/political activities were included as latent class indicators. LCA was performed in MPlus to identify latent subgroups with varying combined levels of advocacy/political participation. A 3-step approach to modeling was utilized so that the measurement model remained fixed when completing the latent class regression.

Results: The final sample included 4,936 trans* respondents of color. A four-class model fit best: Class 1 (n= 2,483; 50.3%) included “non-participants,” i.e., lowest rates if participating in all activities; Class 2 (n= 1,636; 33.1%) included “grassroots participants,” i.e., high rates of attending political protests/rallies and working with community members to solve problems, but low rates of participation in most other activities; Class 3 (n= 469; 9.5%) included “immersed participants,” i.e., highest rates of participation in all activities, except Presidential campaign donations; and Class 4 (n= 348; 7.1%) included “distant participants,” i.e., donated money to Presidential campaigns at the highest rate and donated to other candidates/issues and voted at the second-highest rates, yet participated in all other activities at low rates. Key regression findings included that compared to distant participants, grassroots participants and immersed participants were more likely verbally harassed within the past year. Relative to distant participants, grassroots participants and non-participants were also younger, while non-participants were also more likely poverty impacted. Compared to immersed participants, grassroots participants and non-participants were more likely to have none of their identification documents match their name and gender. Alternatively, non-participants were less likely: non-binary (ref: trans women), Biracial (ref: Latinx), disabled, younger, and mistreated, verbally harassed, and physically assaulted within the past year.

Conclusions/Implications: Results may inform targeted outreach and leveraging resources toward priority populations, e.g., non-participants displayed restricted engagement in all activities and faced specific barriers (e.g., IDs not matching name/gender) that may be mitigated through prioritized efforts that assist group members navigate these barriers. Because of increased discrimination exposure for immersed participants, we must focus on alleviating possible psychological distress and ensuring safety for immersed participants and those who see safety as a barrier. Enhancing involvement could tap into the potential of advocacy/political engagement as a health-promoting strength for trans* communities of color.