Media’s Influence on Perceptions of Trans Women
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Although media representations of trans women are becoming increasingly common, many trans women still face discrimination in their daily lives, in part due to prejudices and stereotypes that are perpetuated by media. In two studies, we investigated group differences in baseline transphobia linked to gender, sexual orientation, religiosity, and political ideology; we then measured whether different representations of trans women in media led to attitude change. After providing information about their baseline attitudes, participants were randomly assigned to positive, negative, or control film-viewing conditions, with a problematic condition (i.e., sympathetic portrayal of a trans woman by a cisgender male actor) added in study 2. In each condition, participants viewed two depictions of trans women from film or television shows. After watching the clips, participants’ attitudes toward trans individuals were re-assessed. Heterosexuals, Christians, conservatives, and men (study 2 only) showed greater transphobia at pretest than LGB individuals, atheists, liberals, and women, respectively. Attitudes of participants who viewed negative film depictions of trans women became more negative after viewing the clips. We discuss implications of these findings in relation to recent media interest in representing trans women.
KeywordsTransgender Transgender attitudes Media Media representation Intergroup contact Vicarious intergroup contact LGBT
Study 1 was based on the senior honors thesis of Haley Solomon. This research was supported by a Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship from the University of North Carolina (UNC) Office for Undergraduate Research, the Pine Tree Scholarship from the UNC Sexuality Studies Program, and the UNC David Bray Peele Memorial Research Award.
Compliance with Ethical Standards
All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.
“Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.”
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