The E-Male Project

Published 12 June 2013

The E-Male project is an online study which will conduct quantitative and qualitative assessments of the experiences of Australian female-to-male transgender people.

Today “transgender” is an umbrella term for many different kinds of sexual diversity. Transgender people are individuals who do not conform to culturally defined categories of gender for persons of their biological sex (APA, 2009).

The research is based at the University of New England where it is being led by Associate Professor Gail Hawkes, Dr. Amy Lykins, Dr. Tiffany Jones, Dr. Tinashe Dune, Dr. Mitra Rashidian and Ms. Andrea del Pozo de Bolger.

The national study will survey participants aged 16 years and older, through an invite only purpose built e-research site designed specifically for the study.

The site will feature a series of researcher directed discussions through a protected access discussion board. The questions asked by researchers will revolve around; sexuality (sexual attraction, sexual behaviour, sexual identity/preferred label, sexual health), the transition process, physical and mental health, access to services, support networks, life satisfaction and general wellbeing, sexual functioning, substance abuse,  educational and occupational status, everyday life obstacles related to gender and legal challenges.

By gaining an understanding of peoples’ personal experiences, the researchers hope to address the current gap in research to know what it is like to be a female-to -male (FtM) transgender person or a “transman” in Australia today.

“It is important to understand that there are many different people who identify with being transgender. They may not be concerned with blending with the opposite sex. They may or may not seek hormone and/or sex reassignment surgery, or they may opt for only partial surgery. They may even adopt a gender neutral or ambiguous position” commented Senior Lecturer in Clinical Psychology, Dr Amy Lykins. 

“We have found that the younger generation may refer to themselves as “gender queer” in an attempt to avoid binary categories. Others may experience a strong aversion to their primary genitalia and could benefit from SRS but financial limitations or concerns about the complications and limited functional outcomes of surgery become an obstacle” continued Dr Lykins.

The University of New England team was motivated to complete the study as currently, worldwide, research tends to focus on male-to-female (MtF) transgender people and has shown that the FtM subgroup have different needs and experiences – which is why this study aims to focus on FtM Australians. It is apparent that transgender is not a static concept and is highly dependent on the scientific, socio, cultural, political and geographical context at any given point in time. 

“The particular federal protections for people of diverse gender identities that we have been advocating for will likely soon be supported through either the Sex Discrimination Amendment (Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity and Intersex Status) Bill 2013, or the proposed Human Rights Bill 2012″, said Dr Tiffany Jones, ‘Ensuring a need for increased understanding of transgender people across various health and employment sectors, and a broader audience for the findings of our research.’”

Several members of the E-males research team – Associate Professor Gail Hawkes, Dr Tinashe Dune and Dr Tiffany Jones – have also been involved in the creation of a Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) within Eduone at UNE, “Sexuality-Based Persecution and Discrimination”. This course features significant materials on issues of sexuality, sexual orientation, gender identity, homophobia and prejudice as well as queer pride. The course can be accessed for free at: http://www.eduone.net.au/module/sexually-based-prejudice-and-discrimination/”.

All participants, and any information they provided to the research project, would be treated confidentially. To participate, please go to the following URL:

http://unebcss.us2.qualtrics.com/SE/?SID=SV_9SOLx5W9hqUPcuV

This study has been approved by the University of New England’s Human Research Ethics Committee (HE12-229; expiry date 29.01.14).