Hashtag project seeks to elicit trans voices

Tech journalist Ina Turpen Fried. Photo: Khaled Sayed
Tech journalist Ina Turpen Fried. Photo: Khaled Sayed

A trans tech journalist and others have developed a hashtag,

#transneeds, in an effort to open a dialogue on major issues affecting the

community and to solicit solutions.

The Transneeds project was born out of the recent White House tech

summit for LGBT leaders.

One of the early leading voices in the world of data science, D.J. Patil,

U.S. chief data scientist, will be using the data to help the Obama

administration address transgender issues. Patil is looking at using big

data to help citizens in lots of ways, including precision medicine.

Ina Turpen Fried, senior editor at Re/Code, had a conversation in June

with Patil.

“I explained just how little data of any kind there is on transgender

Americans,” Fried said. “The conversation continued at the August

White House LGBTQ Technology and Innovation Summit. At that

conference, participants split into a number of different groups, with

ours focusing on the lack of data on transgender needs. And late last

month we launched a @transneeds Twitter account.”

Transneeds is a way for transgender people to voice their concerns and

state their problem in a very public forum, and get their voices heard.

“We won’t solve the problem of a lack of data on trans people,” Fried

said, “but what we can help to do is highlight the areas of deepest need

and then report back to the White House with both recommendations

and some areas that need further study.”

The campaign has already received great support from a number of

leaders in the transgender and ally communities.

Trans celebrities such as Laverne Cox, an actress on Orange is the New

Black and Janet Mock, author and host of So POPular, a weekly pop

culture show on MSNBC, sent out tweets promoting the effort, as did

Debi Jackson, a trans rights activist and PFLAG chapter president, and

Scott Turner Schofield, an actor on the soap opera The Bold and the

Beautiful .

“Share your thoughts/observations with @transneeds using

#transneeds!” Mock tweeted when the effort launched in late

September.

Fried said the hashtag project would continue for a few more weeks.

Patil helped launch #transneeds with a keynote speech at the Strata data

conference in New York. The project is all-volunteer, with no specific organization behind it.

“I am one of about a dozen or so people that are part of the effort, all volunteers who got together at the White House summit,”

Fried said. “I’ve worked to help spread the word and recruit prominent voices to amplify our message. Others on the team have

helped set up our web and social media presence, do data analysis and many other tasks.”

Fried said some of the supporting agencies include the Lavender Youth Recreation and Information Center and the National

Center for Lesbian Rights, both based in San Francisco.

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“We have received tremendous support from a variety of nonprofits including the National Center for Transgender Equality,

LYRIC, Housing Works, NCLR and many others,” Fried added.

In addition to the social media presence, Transneeds has a toll-free number, 844-876-7637 (844-TRNS-NDS) that people can

text.

“It’s also critically important that we reach the huge parts of the transgender community who aren’t online, and that is a big focus

right now,” Fried said. “We need to get the word out.”

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