It Seems Like All I Do Is Research

I think it’s the nature of a Communications major, one that’s heavily interested in media research, to always be researching. I feel like there isn’t a day that goes by where I’m not thinking about an old study I really loved, or listening to my boyfriend talk about their favorite research, or my roommate discussing the racism in Artificial Intelligence. Or I’m talking about what I want to research, about Black History, about Black Media, about things that mean a lot to me.

And that’s what a lot of my research so far has involved. Black identity, femininity, things that impact my outward appearance (although for some people it’s a guessing game when it comes to my identity, something I could write a whole other blog post about).

What I’m coming to realize with this project, how little research, like hard research I know about the LGBTQ community, and trans individuals. As someone who is bisexual, and has been involved with trans rights (wow, does that sound self-indulgent? like hahaha “i have a black friend”-y?”). But I guess it’s one of those subjects that…I didn’t really research. Someone in a class has smacked down a reading, or a study, about being a trans-cyborg, and I didn’t understand it, so I just shrugged my shoulder and moved on. Was it the writing? Do I not care (I definitely care, I’m just constantly full of that good-ole self-doubt)? Was I just not paying attention?

I think it’s important to know how other’s identities can intersect with our own. My project is focusing on such an organic, human experience: love. And sex. But some individuals don’t have sex. Some individuals don’t love in the same ways that I do; that requires research, in areas that I’m scared to go. I know anytime I’ve read research on bisexuality, it’s always hit a little too close to home. “Many people believe bisexuality is a myth; that you’ll eventually be straight or be gay.”

My next podcast episode is about sexuality and gender identity. I don’t know if it’s right to combine the two together, but Olliver is such a strong-willed, opinionated individual that I couldn’t resist trying to ask him about all of it. But I also don’t expect him to know everything, to want to spill all the beans, to do all the work for us. Because we shouldn’t be relying on those outside our own identities to have to do all the work to inform us, to tell us how their lives are different from ours, and how they intersect. We gotta meet them halfway, know our shit, and ask questions that aren’t demeaning or blatantly intrusive. But my project relies on strong voices, relies on these experiences, to provide a sense of authority on these lived-experiences.

I think there is a fine line in research, to fetishize groups we don’t know about. I don’t want to do that. I need to be reading from those who have these experiences, not those who are interested in these experiences.

So, I just looked up trans writers and their nonfictional narratives. Because their stories matter more to this part of my podcast than my own narrative.

It definitely will inform me of how to formulate questions that are engaging, but also inclusive and respectful of everyone’s transitions, not one type.

***Update: podcast episode 3 went well!

4 thoughts to “It Seems Like All I Do Is Research”

  1. Love your approach to this, Briana. Being well-researched and informed so as to respect everyone’s experiences is something that is tedious and never ending, so I really admire you for being committed to it. That said, remember the importance of your own experiences as well. You’ve spent time with them just like you spend time researching; it can be easy to prioritize others over yourself with projects like these, but your story matters and will be an important part of your project!

  2. The struggle between endless research and constantly coming into contact with significant gaps in my knowledge is something I understand on a very deep level. This is so prevalent among Women’s Studies majors at the undergrad level; we talk about it all the time. We can always be humble, we can always keep learning. That’s important to keep in mind. And, people are usually the best resources. They don’t have all the answers, no, but the answers they do have you can’t always find in scholarly sources.

  3. As someone who’s involved in Psychology research, I completely understand where you’re coming from about research. In some areas, there seem to be hundreds maybe thousands of studies, but it’s so shocking how in other areas so little research has been conducted. I really like the approach of looking at nonfiction narratives and I hope those are very informing to your project. I am also very excited for your own episode of the podcast. I think you will definitely have a lot to say and I hope you’re able to reflect on all that you’ve learned throughout this process!

  4. Briana,

    I’m glad the third episode went well! The way you are handling the uniquely personal/somewhat sensitive subject matter is incredible. I really loved when you said, “Because we shouldn’t be relying on those outside our own identities to have to do all the work to inform us, to tell us how their lives are different from ours, and how they intersect.” The work that you’re doing here, and the insights that you’re gaining from it, are important. Not just for the sake of this class, but for other people to see and hear. I can’t wait to listen to the final product.

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