Event Title

The Effect of College Setting on Perceptions of Cisgender-Transgender Interactions

Poster Number

053

Session Title

Gender, Ethnicity, and Bias

Document Type

Poster Presentation

Faculty Mentor

Merry Sleigh, Ph.D.

College

College of Arts and Sciences

Department

Department of Psychology

Description

This study assessed students’ perceptions of a social interaction with a transgender individual in different college settings. Participants were 101 college students with a mean age of 19.6 (SD = 1.82). The majority were cisgender women (87%), Caucasian (55%), and heterosexual (78%). Participants were randomly assigned to one of three experimental conditions. All conditions described a social interaction on a college campus where a transgender male student was mis-identified as a woman, and a similar situation where a transgender female student was mis-identified as a man; the conditions varied in where the interaction took place: a restroom, residence hall, or classroom. Participants provided their perceptions of the situation and responded to scales to assess transphobia, self-esteem, open-mindedness, and need to belong. Results revealed that students reported low levels of transphobia. However, violating the hypothesis, they tended to be more sympathetic to a bystander who unintentionally mis-gendered an individual than they were to the transgender individuals; this was especially true for those with more transphobic attitudes. Students also felt the mistaken speaker would feel the most unsafe in the restroom compared to other settings, suggesting that location was a factor in perceptions. Personality characteristics were more predictive than race. Higher transphobia predicted lower open-mindedness, but also higher self-esteem and no need to belong. Perhaps students with lower self-esteem were more cautious in presenting negative opinions, or perhaps those higher in self-esteem had a greater misunderstanding of the challenges faced by other students. These findings provide new insight into the experience of transgender individuals.

Previously Presented/Performed?

Southeastern Psychological Association (SEPA) Annual Meeting, New Orleans, Louisiana, April 2020; Sixth Annual Showcase of Undergraduate Research and Creative Endeavors (SOURCE), Winthrop University, April 2020

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Apr 24th, 12:00 AM

The Effect of College Setting on Perceptions of Cisgender-Transgender Interactions

This study assessed students’ perceptions of a social interaction with a transgender individual in different college settings. Participants were 101 college students with a mean age of 19.6 (SD = 1.82). The majority were cisgender women (87%), Caucasian (55%), and heterosexual (78%). Participants were randomly assigned to one of three experimental conditions. All conditions described a social interaction on a college campus where a transgender male student was mis-identified as a woman, and a similar situation where a transgender female student was mis-identified as a man; the conditions varied in where the interaction took place: a restroom, residence hall, or classroom. Participants provided their perceptions of the situation and responded to scales to assess transphobia, self-esteem, open-mindedness, and need to belong. Results revealed that students reported low levels of transphobia. However, violating the hypothesis, they tended to be more sympathetic to a bystander who unintentionally mis-gendered an individual than they were to the transgender individuals; this was especially true for those with more transphobic attitudes. Students also felt the mistaken speaker would feel the most unsafe in the restroom compared to other settings, suggesting that location was a factor in perceptions. Personality characteristics were more predictive than race. Higher transphobia predicted lower open-mindedness, but also higher self-esteem and no need to belong. Perhaps students with lower self-esteem were more cautious in presenting negative opinions, or perhaps those higher in self-esteem had a greater misunderstanding of the challenges faced by other students. These findings provide new insight into the experience of transgender individuals.