Annex 3: Ethical Protocol Of This Study

AuthorDirectorate-General for Justice and Consumers (European Commission), ICF
Legal gender recognition in the EU: the journeys of trans people towards full equality
June 2020
This study in particular the consultation activities with trans individuals raised
several ethical risks in relation to access and recruitment, the sensitive framing of
questions and the safety and well-being of participants, among others. To mitigate and
overcome these risks, the research team developed a detailed ethical protocol, informed
by a range of best practice guidance (e.g. Adams et al., 2017; Aparicio-García et al.,
2018; Orr and Bennett, 2009; Vincent, 2018).
This ethical protocol outlined the purpose of the research, how participants would be
engaged in the research and informed of their rights, step s to ensure the safety of
participants and researchers, procedures linked to privacy and anonymity, and guidance
on data protection and storage. This Annex summarises the main components of this
protocol, in particular its six guiding principles.
The ethical principles that underpinned all the consultation activities of this study were:
1. Use sensitive and affirming l anguage and techniques. This research touched
on a range of sensitive topics ( e.g. coming out, transitioning). The team aimed to
ensure that transgender participants not only felt comfortable and supported, but
that the experience of engaging in the research was an empowering one that allowed
individuals to contribute to policy change.
Examples of actions we took to support this principle:
Transgender individuals and relevant NGOs took a role in the design and use of
research tools and questions, and in the approach to the analysis of the results.
The study’s advisory experts were a vital sounding board on language choice and
deployment. Trans individuals also piloted the interview, online consultation and
focus groups to ensure that gender-sensitive and affirming language was used
at all times, and to guide the researchers handling of sensitive issues.
All members of the qualitative research team received ethics training. The
training was developed by Lucy Arora and Joz Motmans and built on feedback
from transgender piloters, the other Senior Researchers and available best
practice literature. The purpose of the ethics training was to ensure that the
qualitative researchers understood their r ole in empowering study participants
and to avoid inadvertently causing them harm. The training ensured a high
degree of awareness of a range of issues relevant to transgender people across
Europe, as well as procedures for consent, data protection and p rivacy. It also
ensured that the team was adept in using sensitive interviewing and facilitation
techniques, and that all language used was appropriate and affirming.
2. Ensure transparency with trans participants and voluntary organisations
supporting t he study. All participants took part having given their informed and
explicit consent. It was important to ensure that participants and supporting
organisations understood the purpose of the research, as well as the modes by which
they could contact the research team and access their personal data/results.
Examples of actions we took to support this principle:
A call to pa rticipate in the study was disseminat ed via partner organisations,
snowballing techniques and by advertising the study on a European Commission
webpage. Once engaged, all particip ants were clearly informed of their rights in
a ‘Data P rotection Note’. This was written in clear and accessible language and
included information on the purpose of the research, the voluntary nat ure of
participation and the right to withdraw at any time, data storage and applicable
legislation, among other things. The note also included key contact points in the
case of qu estions and complaints (both internal an d external to ICF ). The Data
Protection Note w as piloted with t ransgender individuals prior to the ‘rollout’ of

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