Heterosexuals’ Attitudes Toward Transgender People: Findings from a National Probability Sample of U.S. Adults

Abstract

Using data from a national probability sample of heterosexual U.S. adults (N = 2,281), the present study describes the distribution and correlates of men’s and women’s attitudes toward transgender people. Feeling thermometer ratings of transgender people were strongly correlated with attitudes toward gay men, lesbians, and bisexuals, but were significantly less favorable. Attitudes toward transgender people were more negative among heterosexual men than women. Negative attitudes were associated with endorsement of a binary conception of gender; higher levels of psychological authoritarianism, political conservatism, and anti-egalitarianism, and (for women) religiosity; and lack of personal contact with sexual minorities. In regression analysis, sexual prejudice accounted for much of the variance in transgender attitudes, but respondent gender, educational level, authoritarianism, anti-egalitarianism, and (for women) religiosity remained significant predictors with sexual prejudice statistically controlled. Implications and directions for future research on attitudes toward transgender people are discussed.

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Acknowledgement

Data collection was funded by a grant to Gregory Herek from the Gill Foundation. The authors thank Jonathan Mohr for his invaluable comments on an earlier draft of this paper.

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Correspondence to Aaron T. Norton.

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Norton, A.T., Herek, G.M. Heterosexuals’ Attitudes Toward Transgender People: Findings from a National Probability Sample of U.S. Adults. Sex Roles 68, 738–753 (2013). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11199-011-0110-6

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Keywords

  • Transgender
  • Attitudes
  • Sexual prejudice
  • Public opinion