Understanding healthcare needs of transgender individuals.

Lantern is a design research project aimed at understanding the diverse needs, challenges, and goals of transgender individuals. This work strives to make accessing care at Kaiser Permanente safer, easier, and more desirable for transgender patients. Lantern helps place this community’s voice at the center of decisions to create more consistent, clear, and respectful care experiences.



The statistics are alarming.

Forty-one percent of transgender people in the US aged 18 and over attempt suicide. That rate is nine times higher than the overall population. Twenty-five percent report harassment and 2% report being victims of violence in medical settings.

For transgender populations, accessing medical care can mean being disrespected, mis-gendered, asked inappropriate questions, or even refused care. Yet individuals who forgo transition services such as gender-reassignment surgery and ongoing hormone therapy are more likely to develop other health issues, such as depression, suicidality, HIV, and drug abuse. 



At it's heart, Lantern is about social justice.

Kaiser Permanente has a long history of supporting diversity and inclusion, beginning in 1933 with the first hospital at Desert Center, California providing care for blue-collar labor workers. Kaiser Permanente led the industry in providing HIV care in the early 1990s. Lantern is another step in delivering on our promise and heritage of eliminating disparities and providing equal care for all.


Structuring the work for success.


Pursuing a wide range of perspectives and experiences.

Fieldwork included clinic observations, in-home interviews, cultural probe kit activities, audio and visual journaling, and group listening sessions. We spoke with transgender individuals varying in age and stage of transition, family members, and loved ones.


Forming a diverse team.

The Lantern team was comprised of designers, design researchers, and health care professionals diverse in race, gender, and sexual identity. Having a transgender designer on the core team was integral to making sure we led the work with respect and authenticity.

Hearing from care providers.

The Lantern team also worked with and learned from staff and care providers at Kaiser Permanente clinics and Centers of Excellence in Vancouver and Boston.



We're proud of the work's impact.

Being in a room mixed with allies and trans people is probably the most healing and life-affirming thing I can think of. It’s actually better than going to a support group solely for trans folk. To be seen by non-trans people and not only seen but deeply valued for what we have to offer is a gift beyond words.
— Transgender community member and research participant
I’ve never been more proud to be part of this organization.
— KP employee reacting to an internal press release of Lantern findings


Not to mention, we were recognized by the Design Management Institute!