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Clothing and Self Concept in Cisgender and Transgender Individuals

Abstract

Clothing serves as an expression of the self and means for self-evaluation and self-enhancement. Gender, which is central to one’s self-concept is performed through adherence to prescribed gender roles and dress. Using discrepancy theory and self-image congruity, the authors examined the relationship between gender identity and proximity of clothing to self, under the moderating effect of internalization. An online survey of 406 participants (150 cisgender women, 55 cisgender men, 101 trans men, and 100 trans women). MANOVA findings confirmed gender as a central component of self-concept which affects one’s relationship with their clothing specifically when they are used to create a common understanding of the body. Results indicated clothing to be more important for cisgender women (Clothing in relation to self as structure, self-esteem-evaluative process dominant, and self-esteem- affective process dominant) as an expression of their self-perception than transgender individuals. Further, cisgender women engaged more in self-evaluation with social standards, with no significant moderating effect of internalization observed. The current study contributes to the growing body of literature on gender and dress behaviors, specifically how transgender identities impact one’s relationship with their clothing.

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The data set associated with this study can be requested from the first author. It is currently not in a data repository.

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Funding

This study was funded by a University of Rhode Island Research Proposal Development Grant.

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Conceptualization: Jessica Strübel; Data curation: Jessica Strübel, Saheli Goswami; Formal analysis: Jessica Strübel; Funding acquisition: Jessica Strübel; Methodology: Jessica Strübel; Project administration: Jessica Strübel; Supervision: Jessica Strübel; Visualization: Jessica Strübel, Saheli Goswami; Writing-original draft: Jessica Strübel, Saheli Goswami; Writing- review & editing: Jessica Strübel, Saheli Goswami.

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Correspondence to Jessica Strübel.

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The authors complied with the American Psychological Association’s ethical standards in the treatment of human subjects and received IRB approval for this study (IRB Ref #: 1139441–1). All research participants provided informed consent for this study.

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Strübel, J., Goswami, S. Clothing and Self Concept in Cisgender and Transgender Individuals. Gend. Issues (2022). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12147-022-09296-9

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Keywords

  • Gender identity
  • Clothing
  • Internalization
  • Self-discrepancy
  • Body image