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Stereotypes of transgender women and men: Content, strength, and valence



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Evidence suggests that discrimination is a frequent occurrence for many transgender individuals (i.e., individuals who were born female but identify as men or who were born male but identify as women, respectively). There is little empirical evidence, however, to explain why this is so. Previous research has shown that cultural stereotype content, which reflects common beliefs about the characteristics of an outgroup, is associated with prejudice and discrimination against the outgroup in question. For example, the stereotype content model proposes that the degree to which cultural stereotypes of outgroups are warm and competent is due to their position in society relative to the ingroup; variation along these dimensions has been shown to predict the nature of the prejudice and discrimination directed against the outgroup. To identify beliefs about transgender men and women, the cultural stereotypes of transgender individuals were investigated using qualitative and quantitative methodologies. Study 1 utilized focus groups to investigate the beliefs that university students hold about transgender men and women. Eight themes emerged from the thematic analysis of these data. Traits extracted from these themes were then added to a previously developed list of traits and distributed to a larger group of students in an Internet survey (Study 2). This survey asked participants to rate these traits on the degree to which they are included in the cultural stereotype of either transgender men or women, and on the degree to which they personally believe them to be characteristic of transgender men or women. The survey data were analyzed to reveal the content, strength, and valence of stereotypes of transgender men and women. The cultural stereotype of transgender men was more strongly negative than was that of transgender women. This result was not observed in participants’ personal stereotypes of transgender individuals. Furthermore, participants’ reported cultural stereotypes were negatively correlated with the transprejudice they espoused such that the higher their transprejudice scores, the more negative were the stereotypes they reported. The implications of these findings for conceptualizations of transprejudice are discussed, limitations of a commonly used measure of stereotype content are highlighted, and suggestions for future research based on the present results are provided.



Transgender, Stereotypes, Prejudice, Discrimination, Gender



Master of Arts (M.A.)




Applied Social


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