How Do U.S. Students Perceive Trans Persons?
This study explored undergraduate students’ interpersonal responses, namely general feelings toward and desire for further social interaction with trans persons in a helping context. Secondarily, this study explored the relationship between participants’ intrinsic empathy, interpersonal curiosity and interest in further interaction. Two hundred fifty-one undergraduates at a moderate sized university in the southeastern United States served as participants. In order to assess baseline levels of empathy and curiosity, participants in session 1 completed the Interpersonal Reactivity Scale (Davis 1983) and the Interpersonal Curiosity Scale (Litman and Pezzo 2007). One week later, during session 2, the same students assumed the role of a peer counselor and read 1 of 4 (male, female, male-to-female, female-to-male) randomly assigned versions of an intake form completed by a fictitious peer client. Each version was identical, with the exception of the gender identity of the peer client. Participants completed various measures of affect and interest in further interaction. Male participants reported less willingness to interact with, and the strongest negative feelings toward the FTM peer client. Men reported highest willingness to interact with the MTF client and showed the lowest negative reactions towards the MTF client. Female participants’ scores on willingness to interact and on negative reactions were similar across all four intake form versions. Contrary to expectations, baseline levels of empathy and curiosity did not impact responses to gender expression. Further investigation is needed to elucidate the factors associated with anti-transgender prejudice particularly in the context of helping relationships.
KeywordsTrans persons Attitudes toward Helping relationships Anti-transgender prejudice
The authors wish to acknowledge Stacy Mort for her assistance with data collection and entry. Portions of this paper were previously presented as posters at the Annual Conventions of the American Psychological Association, San Diego, CA. 2010 and Boston, MA, 2008.
- Allport, G. W. (1954/1979). The nature of prejudice. Cambridge: Perseus Books.Google Scholar
- American Psychiatric Association. (2000). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders- Revision 4- TR. Washington: American Psychiatric Association.Google Scholar
- Batson, C. D., Dyck, J. L., Brandt, R., Batson, J. G., Powell, A. L., McMaster, M. R., & Griffitt, C. (1988). Five studies testing two new egoistic alternatives to the empathy-altruism Hypothesis. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 55, 52–77. doi: 10.1037/0022-35184.108.40.2062.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Brems, C. (1989). Dimensionality of empathy and its correlates. Journal of Psychology, 123, 329–337.Google Scholar
- Carroll, L. (2010). Counseling sexual and gender minorities. Upper Saddle: Pearson Education.Google Scholar
- Cole, S. S., Denny, D., Eyler, A. E., & Samons, S. L. (2000). Issues of transgender. In L. T. Szuchman & F. Muscarella (Eds.), Psychological perspectives on human sexuality (pp. 149–195). New York: Wiley.Google Scholar
- Denny, D. (2004). Changing models of transsexualism. Journal of Gay & Lesbian Psychotherapy, 8, 25–40.Google Scholar
- Eastwood, C. (Director) (1997). Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil. [Motion Picture]. United States: Warner Brothers.Google Scholar
- Elliott, S. (1994). The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert. [Motion Picture]. Great Britain: PolyGram Filmed Entertainment.Google Scholar
- Ettner, R. (1999). Gender loving care: A guide to counseling gender-variant clients. New York: W.W. Norton & Co.Google Scholar
- Factor, R. J., & Rothblum, E. D. (2007). A study of transgender adults and their non-transgender siblings on demographic characteristics, social support and experiences of violence. Journal of LGBT Health Research, 3, 11–30.Google Scholar
- Jordan, N. (Director) (1992). Crying Game. [Motion Picture]. Great Britain: Palace PicturesGoogle Scholar
- Korell, S. C., & Lorah, P. (2007). An overview of affirmative psychotherapy and counseling with transgendered clients. In K. J. Bieschke, R. M. Perez, & K. A. DeBord (Eds.), Handbook of counseling and psychotherapy with lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender clients (pp. 271–288). Washington: American Psychological Association.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- LaFramboise, S., & Long, B. (n.d.). An introduction to: Gender, transgender and transphobia. Retrieved from http://mypage.direct.ca/h/hrp/gendertr.html
- Lorber, J. (2005). Breaking the bowls. Degendering and feminist change. New York: W. W. Norton & Company.Google Scholar
- Mayer, J. D., & Salovey, P. (1990). Emotional intelligence. Imagination, Cognition, and Personality, 9, 185–211.Google Scholar
- Morrow, S. L. (2000). First do no harm: Therapist issues in psychotherapy with lesbian, gay and bisexual clients. In R. M. Perez, K. A. DeBord, & K. J. Bieschke (Eds.), Handbook of counseling and psychotherapy with lesbian, gay, and bisexual clients (pp. 137–156). Washington: American Psychological Association.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Namaste, V. K. (2000). Invisible lives. The erasure of transsexual and transgendered people. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
- Nuttbrock, L., Hwahng, S., Bockting, W., Rosenblum, A., Mason, M., Marcri, M., & Becker, J. (2010). Psychiatric impact of gender-related abuse across the life course of male-to-female transgender persons. Journal of Sex Research, 47, 12–23. doi: 10.1080/00224490903062258.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Rachlin, K. (2002). Transgender individuals’ experiences of psychotherapy. The International Journal of Transgenderism, 6. Retrieved from http://www.symposion.com/ijt/ijtvo06no01_03.htm.
- Raj, R. (2002). Towards a transpositive therapeutic model: Developing clinical sensitivity and cultural competence in the effective support of transsexual and transgendered clients. The International Journal of Transgenderism, 6. Retrieved from http://www.symposion.com/ijt/ijtvo06no02_04.htm
- Rankin, S. R. (2003). Campus climate for gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people: A national perspective. New York: The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Policy Institute.Google Scholar
- Schiff, T. (2003). Developing men’s leadership to challenge sexism and violence: Working in university setting to develop “Pro-feminist, gay-affirmative and male-positive” men. In B. C. Wallace & R. T. Carter (Eds.), Understanding and dealing with violence. A multicultural approach (pp. 161–182). Thousand Oaks: Sage Publications.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Tucker, D. (Director) (2005). Transamerica. [Motion Picture]. United States: Belladonna Productions.Google Scholar
- Unger, L. S., & Thumuluri, L. K. (1997). Trait empathy and continuous helping: The case of voluntarism. Journal of Social Behavior & Personality, 12, 785–800.Google Scholar
- Van Den Bergh, N, & Crisp, C. (2004). Defining culturally competent practice with sexual minorities: Implications for social work education and practice. Journal of Social Work Education, 40, 221–238.Google Scholar
- Wilchins, R. (2004). Queer theory, gender theory. An instant primer. Los Angeles: Alyson Press.Google Scholar
- Winter, S., Chalungsooth, P., Teh, Y. K., Rojanalert, N., Maneerat, K., Wong, Y. W., Beaumont, A., Ho, L. M. W., Gomez, F. C., & Macapagal, R. A. (2009). Transpeople, transprejudice and pathologization: A seven-country factor analytic study. International Journal of Sexual Health, 21, 96–118. doi: 10.1080/19317610902922537.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Zandvliet, T. (2000). Transgender issues in therapy. In C. Neil & D. Davies (Eds.), Issues in therapy with lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender clients (pp. 176–189). Buckingham: Open University Press.Google Scholar