Hello friends. This is just a quick update about my health and how it’s impacting the project. Apologies for the poor quality and many hesitations in the vid – this is about as articulate as I get at the moment! The typed short version is:


  • I have been off sick since October last year managing a health crisis in my chronic health condition. It totally sucks, but I’ve been wonderfully supported by my support networks and my supervisor.


  • I had to pause right at the beginning of starting data-generation and just as I was recruiting the first of my participants. That means the whole project has been, and is, on hiatus. I had to postpone a few data-generation sessions I had planned, and I hadn’t finished recruiting participants when I got sick. My research schedule is shunted back by 4-ish months.


  • If you are one of the folks who expressed interest in participating and were hoping to hear from me by mid-November: sorry! I wasn’t able to be in touch. Hang on in there and I’ll be in touch soon. Feel free to drop me an email if your feelings about potentially being involved have changed.


  • To the participants I had already been in touch with and collaborated with: Thank you so much, sorry for the break in transmission; I’ll send you individual updates about your contributions soon.


  • I am still totally in love with our project, with the participants I have worked with so far, and I’m hugely passionate about completing it. The data generated so far is exciting and beautiful and tender.


  • The next stage: I am taking things slowly but aim to be back in touch with current and potential future participants in February 2018. I am so looking forward to collaborating with you all more in the not too distant future!


Hello! The below information is essential reading if you are interested in potentially becoming a participant in the research I am conducting. I will be conducting the research in Brighton between September 2017 and the end of the year, but may be able to travel within the UK, so get in touch if you can’t travel to Brighton.  You must also be over 18 and identify as trans and/or non-binary. Here you will find information about who I am, why I am doing this research, and what being involved would mean for you.  If you are interested, I would love to go through the information with you and answer any queries you might have. Feel free to drop me an email and we can arrange a time for a chat. Once you have read this information, you can express your interest here


What is the title of the study?

The working title is: Exploring the ways trans and non-binary people experience sex.


What is the purpose of the project?

This research project forms part of my PhD. I hope to contribute knowledge to the field of Trans Studies and Sexuality Studies by researching the ways trans people experience their bodies, sex, sexuality, and desire. The research will help us gain an understanding of the practices we engage in; and will challenge the ‘trans enough’ narrative by demonstrating that there are many ways of being trans, and that we have multiple, varied experiences of sex, gender, and sexuality – there is no ‘right’ way!  Central to my understanding of varied trans experience, is the role that structural oppression and social capital plays in each of our experiences; we cannot experience or talk about sex or gender without also talking about race, class, (dis)ability. It is hoped that the outcomes of this study will inform and update the practice of sex and relationship therapy providers, trans healthcare, and other services for trans people.


Why have I been given this information?

Because you are a trans and/or non-binary person who has either expressed an interest in the research, or because you have asked to be kept abreast of my work in gender and sexuality.


Do I have to respond to this?

No. Expressing your interest in becoming a participant is completely voluntary, but you do need to express your interest if you want to take part. If after expressing you interest you are asked to participate, then agreeing to take part is voluntary and you are free to withdraw from the project at any time. It is possible due to our cosy communities that you may know me, have been to one of my workshops, or we have mutual friends; it is important you understand that there is no obligation to either express interest, or to participate if asked and choosing not to will not impact future interactions we have.


What will participating involve?

We will meet for a private one-to-one session and two optional follow-up sessions. The sessions will last 1-2 hours. I understand that discussing things like sex and gender can be quite daunting. It can also be sad, funny, embarrassing, silly, cathartic, and profound. Your consent will be sought at every stage and you will not have to do anything you don’t want. Everything in the sessions will be an invitation, not a request, so you need not answer anything you don’t want to, or partake in any exercises that do not feel good. The types of things we might do are: discussion about you and your life; your body; how you feel about sex and sexuality; what kinds of sex you have, on your own, and with others; your feelings and experiences and what things affect you. Before you come to a session, you will be asked to consider if there is anything you want to bring that might be relevant to you sharing your experiences with me, such as: photos, drawings, pictures, pieces of writing, prosthetics or toys, clothing. During the sessions, you may be invited to do guided meditations to help you evoke memories, drawing, doodling, painting or sculpting, and to show me anything you have bought with you to the sessions. I will audio record our sessions, and I will ask if I can take photos or copies of any of the visual things we refer to in the sessions. I will also take some notes. Whilst the content of our sessions is up to us to decide, the boundary is nudity. This is a ‘pants-on’ space. This is to make sure we are both comfortable and safe in a one-to-one environment, not because your body isn’t wonderful! If there is anything you want to show me that involves nudity, I warmly invite you to photograph, video-record, illustrate or otherwise document yourself, and bring this along to the sessions so that you can share it with me.


When will the sessions take place?

Between September and December 2017, however this is subject to change, and I will do my best to accommodate other times.


Will I be paid for taking part?

I will reimburse your travel expenses for taking part. If you have additional expenses such as childcare costs, please do let me know. Whilst I do not have the funding to pay participants, I do not want the potential cost of taking part to be a prohibiting factor and will take each case into consideration. I will provide refreshments, and a warm, cosy, private space for our sessions. I will also provide all the materials we might use.


What are the potential disadvantages of taking part?

All of us will be coming to this topic with different experiences; many of us hold complex feelings, both about our gender journey, and our relationship to sex. It is possible that as we explore these themes, unpleasant feelings such as distress or sadness come up. I work in a trauma-informed way. This means that I am experienced in recognising these states, and can assist you in managing feelings of distress, dissociation or panic by utilising ‘First Aid for Distress’. Guided exercises such as lengthening and slowing your exhale; naming five things you can see in the room, or listing what your senses are aware of in the moment will be offered. I am not able to offer counselling, and am not a psychotherapist but I will provide you with a list of resources which you can access if you need further support. For a list of resources please visit http://hhowitt.com/links-resources/


What are the potential advantages of taking part?

Many people find having a space to explore sex and gender in a non-judgmental, compassionate way to be a positive experience. The project will be of benefit to the wider trans communities by informing health care services and therapy providers of the findings. Whilst discussing these topics may feel cathartic, the research is not intended to be therapeutic and there will be no intervention or counselling provided by me.


Will my contribution to the project be confidential?

You will have the right to decide if you want to be completely anonymous, or if you want to use an identifiable name and/or image. If you decide you would prefer to be identifiable, you will need to sign an Anonymity Waiver form which asks you to consider how being identifiable in the research will impact you, so that you can make an informed decision. If you decide you want to be anonymous, I will use a pseudonym for you and change any identifiable information that you share. I will also not use any images that identify you. All the data including audio recordings, transcripts, my notes, and any visual material, will be password protected and destroyed three years after completion of the PhD, in accordance with the Data Protection Act (1998). Any hard data will be stored in a locked draw at my desk at the University of Brighton. Anything that we discuss in our sessions will be completely confidential outside of the project, with the exception of my therapist, who will be giving me support and supervision. I will never discuss what you share, or anything about our sessions with anyone else. The only limit to this agreement is a matter of safeguarding: in some instances, a participant may share something with me that I feel might be a safety concern. If this happens, I will tell you and we will collaboratively decide on a way forward – it may be that I need to discuss this with my supervisor, in which case, I will tell you.


What is the process? How do I become a participant?

First you must express your interest in participating by filling out the form at http://hhowitt.com/express-interest/. The form will ask you to confirm that you have read and understood all the information here, and that you have contacted me with any questions or clarifications. It will also ask you about your availability, other demographic information, your name and contact details. You will be asked your preferred method of communication, and by November 31st 2017, I will contact you to either ask you to participate or to let you know that I have reached the maximum number of participants required.  I am very grateful to all who express an interest, and regret that due to limited resources, management of my dual roles, and a core value around reaching a broad range of participants, I cannot take forward all people who express interest. If you are not asked to participate, you may be asked to join a waiting list should participants withdraw from the project, and you will be invited to join a mailing list for future events and projects I am involved in.


What will happen if I don’t want to carry on with the project?

At any stage, and without needing to give a reason, you may withdraw from the study. It is then up to you to decide if I may use what we have already produced, or if you would like everything relating to your participation to be destroyed. I will make very clear the deadline by which I am able to do this by (once I am in the later stages of write-up, it may not be possible).


What will happen to the results of the project?

The results will be used in various ways: in my thesis write-up for my PhD; at conferences where I may present an academic paper; in academic publications; in training materials which I will write to inform service providers. As there is a creative element to the project, I would like to make a creative output of my findings, one that will reach outside academic institutions; something we can share with our peers. This might take the form of a zine or exhibition. You will be consulted with directly and your explicit consent will be sought to use any images, in combination with words.


Who funds this research?

I am on a studentship PhD programme funded by Brighton University.


What if there is a problem?

If you are concerned about something, or you have a complaint, you can contact my supervisors using the contact details below.


Contact details


Lead Supervisor: Dr. Hannah Frith

University of Brighton                                              Applied Social Science Falmer Brighton BN1 9PH

Telephone: +441273643933

Email: H.L.Frith@brighton.ac.uk

Second Supervisor: Prof. Katherine Johnson

University of Brighton

Applied Social Science Falmer Brighton BN1 9PH

Telephone: +441273643854

Email: K.E.Johnson@Brighton.ac.uk




Who has reviewed this project?

This project has been reviewed by the Tier 2 College Research Ethics Committee.


What now?

You can email me to arrange a time to call or Skype to discuss anything about the research. If you are interested, please fill out the online form to express your interest at: www.hhowitt.com/expressionofinterest.