Gender Nonconformity Is Perceived Differently for Cisgender and Transgender Targets
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The present research examined the role gender non-conformity plays in attitudes toward transgender people. Study 1 with 232 U.S college students focused on attitudes toward female targets; Study 2 with 217 U.S. college students focused on male targets; and Study 3 with 462 mTurk workers directly compared attitudes toward female and male targets. In all three studies, participants read a vignette depicting either a transgender or cisgender target who presents as either gender conforming or gender nonconforming. In all three studies, we found that gender nonconforming targets and transgender targets were perceived as more threatening to the distinction between men and women, and in two of the studies, we found that gender conforming transgender targets were more threatening than conforming cisgender targets. We also found that anti-transgender prejudice, traditional gender role beliefs (Studies 1 and 2), and biological gender essentialism (Study 3) moderated these effects. Transgender targets who conform to the traditional binary gender role associated with their gender expression are perceived as transgressing distinct binary gender boundaries, which may be threatening because “passing” transgender individuals are harder to detect as transgressors and because their “passing” challenges the belief that gender is biologically essential and immutable. Furthermore, as anti-transgender prejudice, traditional gender role beliefs, and gender essentialist beliefs increase, liking decreased and threat increased for transgender and gender nonconforming targets. Working to alter gender essentialist beliefs may be a route to reducing anti-transgender prejudice.
KeywordsTransgender (attitudes toward) Gender conformity Gender roles Prejudice Stereotyped behavior Boundary violations Explicit attitudes
Compliance with Ethical Standards
Conflict of Interest
We have no conflicts of interest to disclose.
Research Involving Human Participants
The research was conducted in compliance with APA’s ethical standards.
The study was approved by an Institutional Review Board at the authors’ institutions.
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