The Fenway Institute Epidemiology Team Launches LITE Plus Transgender Health Study

LITE Plus is a longitudinal study that will be exploring the health disparities of racial minority transgender women to assess the impact of stigma-related chronic stress. LITE Plus is a multi-site effort between Fenway Health, Whitman-Walker Health, and University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Medicine that will enroll a prospective cohort of 200 Black and Latina transgender women, with a goal of 100 participants enrolled at Fenway Health.

We will collect validated psychological measures of intersectional stigma, perceived stress, cardiovascular risk behaviors (eg. smoking), mental health (eg. depression), coping, and social support.

We are also collecting clinical measures (e.g. height, weight, waist circumference, and blood pressure), salivary measures of cortisol, and blood samples. Additionally, 20-30 in-depth qualitative interviews will be conducted to contextualize participants’ experiences. Participants will be followed for two years, with study visits every 6 months.

Transgender individuals face an incredible amount of discrimination in many aspects of their lives. These burdens are even more intense for trans women of color. Both mental health and Cardiovascular Disease (CVD) have been linked to chronic stress, and that chronic stress from prejudice and stigma drives disparities in mental health and CVD among racial and ethnic minorities. As a result, we think it is critical to learn and understand how this affects the cardiovascular health among Black and Latina trans women.

One of the goals of the study is to identify major causes of stress for Black and Latina TW. We suspect that a major cause of this stress will be multiple forms of stigma (based on race, gender identity, immigration status ethnicity, etc.). Data is needed for effective ways to assess risk and promote healthy well-being of trans women. We strive for this study to help reduce health disparities for black and Latina transgender women. It’s more important than ever to protect the health of these individuals and break the stigma.

If you are interested in participating, learning more about the study, or having us come talk to your patients about the study, please contact Lauren Sava at 857.313.6963, Cassie Vuong at 617.752.3273, or email us at

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