“Queer Populations, Policies, and Perspectives”: Report from Event

Dr Samuel Mann and Dr Lee Gregory were recently awarded an opportunity grant from the Social Policy Association to facilitate an interdisciplinary event titled “Queer Populations, Policies, and Perspectives” which took place on the 15th November 2021.

The event was jointly hosted at The University of Birmingham, Vanderbilt University (in the US), and online and received matched funding from the LGBT+ Policy Lab at Vanderbilt University. The event brought together people across the social sciences to discuss research on LGBT+ populations and LGBT+ policies.

Over 100 people covering 5 different continents signed up for the event. The wide-reaching audience served for some interesting and thought-provoking discussions regarding the positioning of LGBT+ people and the role of policies in improving the outcomes of LGBT+ people. While the research documented demonstrated that LGBT+ people have consistently worse social, economic, and health outcomes, it also demonstrated that LGBT+ policies have helped to close these gaps.

Dr Stuart Turnbull-Dugarte kicked off the day, discussing the voting patterns of sexual minorities and how sexual minorities differ from heterosexuals in terms of their political behaviour.

Dr Eleanor Formby reflected on her 15 years of research on LGBT+ young people, giving a fascinating discussion on the way that research agendas and approaches have changed. She discussed the ways that understanding of sexual and gender identities have evolved and highlighting the way that sexual minority youth perspectives have changed and the importance of being aware of these changing perspectives.

Using population level data from the Netherlands Silvia Palmaccio, a PhD student at KU Leuven discussed the early labour market outcomes of children of same-sex couples, demonstrating that children of same-sex couples do not differ from individuals in opposite-sex couples in terms of their early labour market outcomes.

The first session was wrapped up by Dr Matthew Shannon, who presented research on the self-employment status of transgender individuals in the US.

The morning session was followed by two breakout sessions. Professor Kitt Carpenter, Dr Eleanor Formby, and Dr Peter Matthews created one panel, to discuss grant and publication success. The session offered PhD students and early career researchers’ advice on publishing work on LGBT+ identities and policies in the social sciences and strategies for grant applications. The second session panel speakers, Professor Lee Badgett, Professor Tara McKay, Dr Margaret Greenfields, and Richard Angel (from Terrence Higgins Trust) discussed their experiences in building coalitions with policy makers and practitioners and being a more public academic.

The second paper session focused on Social and Economic Policy relating to queer identities. Travis Campbell presented research on the effects of gender affirming care on the health of low income transgender people, using differences in the coverage of gender affirming care under Medicaid across US states to offer causal interpretations. Travis demonstrated the positive impact of gender affirming care on the health of transgender people, showing the positive effects of Medicaid covering these medical practices.

This was followed by research by Professor Gilbert Gonzales who used difference in transgender policies across US states to explore the relationship between these policies and the health outcomes of transgender people, showing that positive policy environments for transgender people are associated with better health outcomes.

Dr Peter Matthews wrapped up the day highlighting how legal process has resulted in the need to scrutinize policy making and administration practices to challenge heteronormative assumption in policy design. Highlighting alongside this the backlash of progress, especially the gender critical attack on trans rights prominent in the UK.

Overall, the event provided a great platform for research on the outcomes of LGBT+ people and the impact of policies in improving these outcomes. The event brought together practitioners and academics across the social sciences, covering demography, health policy, economics, sociology, political science, education policy, and of course, social policy.

Moving forwards, Dr Samuel Mann and Dr Lee Gregory will be establishing a new network called QPaP (Queer Populations and Policies) that will bring together academics and practitioners that are interested in/ work on LGBTQ+ populations and policies. The network will offer monthly opportunities for research presentations, workshops, and career development for early career researchers. This should formally launch early 2022. If interested in finding out more or to offer to present at a future seminar, please contact QPaPinfo@gmail.com.

Image: blende12 on Pixabay