Who are we researching? Frequently asked questions

Francesca Stella

We have interviewed 27 participants aged 19 to 47; we have spoken to 16 women and 11 men, one of whom is transgender; 7 of our participants identify as gay, 11 as lesbian and 9 as bisexual.

We have a majority of Polish participants so far (20), which partly reflects the demographics of East European migration in Scotland (Poles are by far the largest community of ‘new’ migrants); we have been struggling to recruit participants from other ethnonational backgrounds. We are also trying to diversify our sample in terms of socio-economic background: highly educated, relatively well-off migrants are over-represented in our sample.

We are often asked what we mean by ‘Eastern Europe’, and which nationalities we are trying to capture. We would like to speak to migrants from formerly communist countries in Eastern Europe and the Former Soviet Union; keeping in mind the demographic profile of migrants from the region in Scotland, we have produced recruitment posters in Polish, Russian, Latvian, Lithuanian, Czech/Slovak, Romanian and Bulgarian. We are able to interview Polish and Russian-speaking migrants in their own language (Polish: Anna; Russian: Francesca). So far, we have interviewed speakers of other languages from the region in English: we have interviewed migrants from Romania, Bulgaria and Slovakia in English. If you are interested in taking part but feel uncomfortable being interviewed in English, we *may* be able to interview you through an interpreter. This will be arranged through a partner organisation which has staff speaking Latvian, Lithuanian, Czech/Slovak, Romanian and Bulgarian.

We are aware that ‘Eastern European’ is sometimes used in a derogatory way in the UK, and that migrants from the region often feel the term ‘Eastern Europe’ is inaccurate (preferring, for example, ‘Central and Eastern Europe’). However, the term ‘Central and Eastern Europe’ is potentially confusing: when we used ‘Central and Eastern Europe’ in our recruitment messages, we received responses from Austrian and Dutch migrants, and so returned to the term ‘Eastern Europe’.

We are often asked why the project does not specifically target transgender migrants. This was a decision taken in consultation with relevant community and voluntary sector organisations before the project begun. Our shared concern was that we may struggle to recruit LGB migrants as a ‘hidden’ population, and that we may fail to recruit any transgender migrants at all: local LGBT organisations have found trans people a particularly hard to reach population. We just did not want to end up having no, or a puny number of trans migrants involved, and a token ‘T’ in the title. We decided to focus the project specifically on sexuality, rather than gender identity. Trans migrants from the region who also identify as lesbian, gay or bisexual are very welcome to take part in the project, and we have interviewed one trans bisexual migrant so far. The experience of trans migrants is certainly a very important topic in its own right, so if you identify as trans but not as lesbian, gay or bisexual we would still like to hear from you (we would like to interview you, although not as part of the ‘Intimate Migration’ project, which focuses on sexuality).