Finding Our Strength

The Survey

Finding Our Strength was Transcend’s first venture into research, which followed a community-driven approach to its design, methods, objectives, recruitment, analysis, interpretation, and dissemination. What resulted was robust, dynamic dissemination of sharing key findings with the trans/gender diverse community, healthcare professionals, families, LGBTQIA+ peoples, and beyond. Translating the findings into action, FOS has informed community care programs, educated healthcare professionals, fostered ally training, inspired continued research initaitives, published in peer-review journals, and presented on nationally, regionally and locally. 

Community self-determination is beautiful.

Research specs: 

  • Cross-sectional, mixed methods survey
  • Field of study from June 2016 to early November 2016
  • Implemented a minority stress framework 
  • Examined daily experiences of stress and worry about discrimination 
  • Explored gender journey across multiple “milestones” along with facilitators and barriers to self-actualizing gender identity
  • Investigated coping responses and self-reported effectiveness 
Lead Collaborators

Brayden A. Misiolek (he/they) as primary author of text-based copy
Daniel A. Herrle (he/him) as primary creative for visual design.

Mx. Brayden Misiolek (he/they) led the identification of key messages and was responsible for the development of text-based copy. Throughout the design process, he facilitated review sessions among community members, creatives, researchers, and Transcend care team members. He translated feedback from these discussions into functional design requirements, partnering closely with Mr. Daniel Herrle (he/him), Director of the Transcend creative team). Mx. Misiolek offered illustrations and outlines of how to present the research data in an engaging and accessible way for Mr. Herrle to improve through visual communication. Together, they collaborated closely to execute this vision and create the exhibit panels.

More acknowledgements of efforts of all involved parties in the development of our research and exhibits are referenced in the concluding panel, listed alphabetically

In the News

Trans-Led Organization Debuts Research-Meets-Art Gallery at Affirmations: Local Leaders, T/GNC Community Praise Findings, Cultivation of a Safe Space
Pride Source, 2018
Finding our Strength: Transcending the Binary
University of Michigan Institute for Social Research, 2019
Finding Our Strength: Community-Based Research with a Trans Population
Interdisciplinary Association for Population Health Science

Touring Exhibit
  • Initial exhibit was installed at the Pittmann-Puckett Gallery,  Affirmations LGBTQ Community Center, November 2017 – January 2018
  • Affirmations requested the exhibit to be installed for a special, expanded Pride exhibit from May 2018 through August 2018.
  • Oakland University requested a pop-up exhibit to commemorate the Trans Day of Remembrance in 2018.
  • Invited pop-up exhibit and dissemination lecture at the University of Michigan Institute of Social Research in 2019.

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About The Survey
Who We Are
Support System
Watch. Avoid.
How We Cope Demonstrative

A demonstrative accompanies the following panel to prompt guests to reflect on how they cope.

A board visually mapped out each of the coping activities from our survey as a grid. Each coping activity was represented by a peg and labeled. String was available for guests to wrap around the pegs – connecting their coping responses with string. Differently colored strings were available, each one corresponding to emotion (e.g., the purple string represents feeling sad, the yellow string represents feeling worried, the red string represents feeling angry, etc.). Over the course of the exhibit, an aggregated visualization represented all of the guests who participated in reflecting on how they cope.

Coping in Healthcare
Gender Journey
Gender Journey Demonstrative


A demonstrative accompanies the following panel for guests to interact with and reflect on the prompt What is gained? What is lost?

Each milestone is represented by a slider which could be moved horizontally to correspond with a given age. We included an age range that encompasses respondents’ age at the time of taking the survey (up to 70 years old).



A Mixed-Media Production

Headspace is an audio-visual motion graphic sharing qualitative responses from the Finding Our Strength survey.

The voices you hear are community members who volunteered as voice actors. Each person chose the survey responses they wished to record considering what responated with them.

Community members were involved throughout the entire process from recording to post-production and final editing. Editing was limited to sound quality clean up, and determing the sequence of the qualitative responses based on a narrative progression. All responses were left intact to preservee the themes from the survey. In other words, these are direct quotes from survey respondents.

We created immersive experiences:

We installed Headspace as a large flatscreen tv with headphones to engage wth the audio, while the visual elements played on loop. In another exhibit, we dedicated a listening room to Headspace. Guests coud sit on lounge chairs in the darkened room as Headspace was projected onto a large format screen, along with speakers. 

Dedicated to Action

promotion materials

Initial exhibit from November 2017 to January 2018 showcasing key findings from Finding Our Strength (2016). 


event posters

Transcend’s Creative, Communication & Outreach team developed incredible materials promoting Sharing Our Strength exhibition. 

mixed media video

We produced a promotional video for social media and our website. We included qualitative responses (not found in Headspace) and included key stats from Finding Our Strength. 

The video was for the special, extended Pride exhibit at Affirmations from May to August 2018. 

launch party

Promoting our initial launch of the exhibit from Finding Our Strength (2016), which we called Sharing Our Strength.

event posters

Transcend’s Creative, Communication & Outreach team developed incredible materials promoting Sharing Our Strength exhibition.