Research Spotlights

Voice Masculinization Therapies for Individuals who Identify as Transgender/Transmasculine

For transmasculine individuals, alignment of voice production with their experienced gender and with the gender identity assigned by others (the perception of gender) is critical to their safety and well-being. Roughly half transgender individuals identify as transmasculine and 79 percent of these individuals have gender-related voice problems, yet there are no evidence-based treatments for voice masculinization. Although hormone replacement therapy (HRT) with exogenous testosterone is the default treatment, not all individuals experience voice masculinization, and an estimated 31 percent are not satisfied with their voice masculinity after a year or more of HRT. Furthermore, traditional in-person behavioral voice therapy is not often accessed by these individuals due to a lack of scientific evidence for behavioral modifications and high rates of negative experiences during in-person healthcare visits.

The STEPP LAB for Sensorimotor Rehabilitation Engineering is working with transmasculine speakers to better understand the longitudinal effects of HRT on their communication, to develop novel behavioral voice modification techniques to increase voice masculinization, and to better understand the underlying relationships between anatomical, physiological, acoustical, and perceptual outcomes of voice modification.

Diversity Awareness in Dietetics (#InclusiveDietetics)

Using a longitudinal cohort intervention, a cross-institutional group of researchers including Clinical Associate Professor of Nutrition Michele DeBiasse are conducting a 20-week awareness campaign on Facebook. The aim of the project is to increase awareness about and knowledge of the lack of diversity in the dietetics profession as well as to engage food/nutrition professionals on racial/equity issues within the field of dietetics. The researchers hypothesize that a social media campaign based on the transtheoretical model (stages of change) to motivate, educate, and prompt participants to act will increase awareness about diversity and inclusion in dietetics. Collaborators include Kate G Burt, PhD, RDN at CUNY/Lehman College and Zubaida Qamar, PhD, RDN at San Francisco State University.

Giving Voice: Experiences of LGBT Students, Interns, and Practitioners of Dietetics

With methodology grounded in Feminist Standpoint Theory and using a mixed methods approach, Clinical Associate Professor of Nutrition Michele DeBiasse, in collaboration with Amy Branham, MS, RD, LDN at the UMass Extension Nutrition Education Program, will engage “out” LGBT students, interns, and professionals in dietetics in semi-structured interviews to qualitatively determine the emotional/behavioral challenges faced during their academic, supervised practice, and/or professional work as dietitians. Incorporating measures to assess the aforementioned challenges, researchers will survey a sample of the general population of dietetics students, interns and professionals to measure explicit bias toward LGBT individuals, the identified challenges and then compare differences in challenges/bias between LGBT and non-LGBT identifying subjects.  Finally, the study will engage approximately 15 individuals from sample participants who identify as LGBT in semi-structured interviews to characterize the lived experience of these individuals as LGBT students, interns and professionals in dietetics.

Supporting Black Individuals in the US Living With Serious Mental Illness

Assistant Professor Daniel Fulford and postdoctoral associate Jasmine Mote, with colleagues in the Approach Motivation & Participation Lab, wrote a call to action, published in the July 2020 JAMA Psychiatry: Now Is the Time to Support Black Individuals in the US Living With Serious Mental Illness (SMI).

“It is our responsibility as mental health researchers and clinicians to understand and address the racism that affects our patients and participants. For decades, researchers have studied these processes, from examining the overdiagnosis of SMI in Black communities to the racial disparities in access to mental health treatment. Discrimination is a significant form of stress that has been shown time and again to have adverse consequences on one’s mental and physical health…We can do more to address the unique challenges of the Black SMI community.”

Read the full article.