'Resistance' Researcher Gets $43,576 From NIH

Grant to study 'health status of gender minorities'

President Barack Obama speaks with Director of the National Institutes of Health Dr. Francis Collins / Getty Images
May 10, 2017

A new study conducted by the National Institutes of Health on the "health status of gender minorities" is costing taxpayers over $40,000.

A post-doctoral student at Duke University, a self-described member of the "resistance" who believes having a "vagina does not equal woman," received the funding for the study that was announced on May 1.

"Contemporary, empirically-based knowledge of transgender health is scant," according to the grant for the project. "Subsequently, as this population continues to grow, they will have key health promotion, illness prevention, and chronic illness self-management challenges."

"In order to identify and prioritize health needs, and provide the foundation to develop clinical interventions and changes in clinical practice and in policy aimed at promoting health and wellness, preventing illness, and reducing the burden of illness in transgender adults, there is a need to develop a deeper understanding of their health status," the grant states.

Transgender studies have "taken a narrow view," according to the grant, by focusing on mental health and hormone therapy.

The study will use data from a behavioral health survey conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in 2014. Specific aims of the study include comparing the health status of different transgender subpopulations.

The project received $43,576 and began May 1. Research will continue until August 2018.

Ethan Cicero, a post-doctoral student at Duke University, received the grant. Cicero describes his employer as "The Resistance" on his now-private Facebook account.

Cicero's cover photo on the social media platform reads "Resist 45," in reference to President Donald Trump. He changed his profile picture to "Not My President" on Inauguration Day.

"Hey Women's Marchers, vagina does not equal woman," Cicero wrote on Facebook, referencing the liberal march the day after Inauguration Day that received criticism from transgender activists for not being inclusive to biological men who identify as women.

"Stop erasing trans/gender nonconforming people," Cicero said, linking to an article in the Washington Post with the headline, "It's time to drop the vagina as a protest symbol."

Cicero did not respond to an email requesting comment on the importance of the study, Cicero's posts about the "resistance," and whether receiving funding for the project would change Cicero's view of the Trump administration.

Cicero's Facebook account was changed to private shortly after the request for comment was sent.

Duke University praised Cicero in 2015 for an academic paper he wrote on the treatment of transgender individuals in emergency rooms that was shared on social media reaching "more than 4,470 people and garnered more than 160 likes, comments, or shares."

The article, "I Was a Spectacle … A Freak Show at the Circus: A Transgender Person's ED Experience and Implications for Nursing Practice," documented an experience about a person who was born a woman but now identifies as a man who went to an ER for elevated blood pressure and severe anxiety.

The traumatizing experience included hospital staff pointing at him saying, "No, that’s really a girl."

Cicero's paper recommended hospitals ask individuals for their preferred pronouns and to "be sensitive to shared spaces" by keeping the "gender to which they identify in mind" when placing transgender individuals in rooms.

The paper also said doctors "incorrectly use sex and gender interchangeably," since gender is "more abstract and refers to the complex relationships among gender biology (sex), gender identity (one's sense of being female, male, both, or neither), and gender expression (outward presentation behaviors, and roles)."

Cicero defined transgender as an "umbrella term that includes a spectrum of gender identities and persons with gender expressions varying from the traditional gender binary system."

"Identities within this spectrum include, but are not limited to, genderqueer, genderfluid, transsexual, gender nonconforming, and two-spirit people," Cicero wrote.

Cicero announced on Facebook that the NIH approved the project's funding in March. Another post from that month said Vice President Mike Pence's pro-life views only apply to "white, straight, and American individuals/babies."

The NIH recently received a $2 billion funding boost in a law to keep the government funded through September.