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University of Michigan School of Information


Designing Trans Technologies

Transgender and non-binary people face substantial challenges in the world, ranging from social inequities and discrimination to lack of access to resources. Though technology cannot fully solve these problems, technological solutions may help to address some of the challenges trans people and communities face. In this research, we seek to design technologies with trans individuals and communities to make positive social impact for this population. This research builds from an initial series of participatory design sessions (total N = 21 participants) conducted in 2019. In these sessions we developed a community-centric understanding of trans people's most pressing challenges, and then involved this population in the design process through brainstorming and sketching activities. We identified four types of technologies trans people envision: technologies for changing bodies, technologies for changing appearances / gender expressions, technologies for safety, and technologies for finding resources. We found that centering trans people in the design process enabled inclusive technology design that primarily focused on sharing community resources and prioritized connection between community members. This funding will cover the next stage of this research project, which involves: 1) Creating digital prototypes of some of the technologies participants envisioned, and then 2) Holding a series of participatory design sessions in which we bring these prototypes back to trans participants to gather feedback and iterate on the designs.

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The amount of the award is $5,000 for the project period. The grant is funded by the Digital Studies Institute.