Sex Roles

, Volume 67, Issue 9–10, pp 516–527 | Cite as

How Do U.S. Students Perceive Trans Persons?

  • Lynne Carroll
  • Dominik Güss
  • Kimberly S. Hutchinson
  • Andy A. Gauler
Original Article

Abstract

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.

Keywords

Trans persons Attitudes toward Helping relationships Anti-transgender prejudice 

References

  1. Allport, G. W. (1954/1979). The nature of prejudice. Cambridge: Perseus Books.Google Scholar
  2. American Psychiatric Association. (2000). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders- Revision 4- TR. Washington: American Psychiatric Association.Google Scholar
  3. Aguero, J. E., Bloch, L., & Byrne, D. (1984). The relationships among sexual beliefs, attitudes, experience, and homophobia. Journal of Homosexuality, 10, 95–107. doi:10.1300/J082v10n01_07.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Batson, C. D., Chang, J., Orr, R., & Rowland, J. (2002). Empathy, attitudes and action: Can feeling for a member of a stigmatized group motivate one to help the group. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 28, 1656–1666. doi:10.1177/014616702237647.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Batson, C. D., Duncan, B. D., Ackerman, P., Buckley, T., & Birch, K. (1981). Is empathic emotion a source of altruistic motivation? Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 40, 290–302. doi:10.1037/0022-3514.45.3.706.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. 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:10.1037/0022-3514.56.6.922.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Batson, C. D., Batson, J. G., Slingsby, J. K., Harrell, K. L., Peekna, H. M., & Matthew, T. R. (1991). Empathic joy and the empathy-altruism hypothesis. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 61, 413–426. doi:10.1037/0022-3514.61.3.413.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Blashill, A. J., & Powlishta, K. K. (2009). The impact of sexual orientation and gender role on evaluations of men. Psychology of Men and Masculinity, 10, 160–173. doi:10.1037/a0014583.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Bowers, A. M. V., & Bieschke, K. J. (2005). Psychologists’ clinical evaluations and attitudes: An examination of the influence of gender and sexual orientation. Professional Psychology: Research and Practice, 36, 97–103. doi:10.1037/0735-7028.36.1.97.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Brems, C. (1989). Dimensionality of empathy and its correlates. Journal of Psychology, 123, 329–337.Google Scholar
  11. Carroll, L. (2010). Counseling sexual and gender minorities. Upper Saddle: Pearson Education.Google Scholar
  12. Carroll, L., Gauler, A., Relph, J., & Hutchinson, K. (2011). Therapist self-disclosure: Does sexual orientation matter to straight clients? International Journal for the Advancement of Counseling, 33, 139–148. doi:10.1007/s10447-011-9118-4.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Carroll, L., & Gilroy, P. J. (2002). Transgender issues in counselor preparation. Counselor Education and Supervision, 41, 233–242.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Carroll, L., Gilroy, P. J., & Ryan, J. (2002). Counseling transgendered, transsexual, and gender-variant clients. Journal of Counseling and Development, 80, 131–139.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Ceglian, C. M. P., & Lyons, N. N. (2004). Gender type and comfort with cross-dressers. Sex Roles, 50, 539–546. doi:10.1023/B:SERS.0000023073.99146.2d.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. 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
  17. Crandall, C. S. (1991). Multiple stigma and AIDS: Medical stigma and attitudes toward homosexuals and IV-drug users in AIDS-related stigmatization. Journal of Community and Applied Social Psychology, 1, 165–172. doi:10.1002/casp. 2450010210.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Davis, M. H. (1983). Measuring individual differences in empathy: Evidence for a multidimensional approach. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 44, 113–126. doi:10.1037/0022-3514.44.1.113.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Denny, D. (2004). Changing models of transsexualism. Journal of Gay & Lesbian Psychotherapy, 8, 25–40.Google Scholar
  20. Drescher, J. (2002). Editorial. In your face: Social activism and mental health. Journal of Gay & Lesbian Psychotherapy, 6, 1–7. doi:10.1300/J236v06n04_01.Google Scholar
  21. Eastwood, C. (Director) (1997). Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil. [Motion Picture]. United States: Warner Brothers.Google Scholar
  22. Elliott, S. (1994). The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert. [Motion Picture]. Great Britain: PolyGram Filmed Entertainment.Google Scholar
  23. Ettner, R. (1999). Gender loving care: A guide to counseling gender-variant clients. New York: W.W. Norton & Co.Google Scholar
  24. 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
  25. Fingerhut, A. W. (2011). Straight allies: What predicts heterosexuals’ alliance with the LGBT community? Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 41, 2230–2248. doi:10.1111/j.1559-1816.2011.00807.x.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Gagne, P., Tewksbury, R., & McGaughey, D. (1997). Coming out and crossing over. Identity formation and proclamation in a transgender community. Gender & Society, 11, 478–508. doi:10.1177/089124397011004006.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Gerhardstein, K. R., & Anderson, V. N. (2010). There’s more than meets the eye: Facial appearance and evaluations of transsexual people. Sex Roles, 62, 361–373. doi:10.1007/s11199-010-9746-x.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Greitemeyer, T., Fischer, P., Kastenmuller, A., & Frey, D. (2006). Civil courage and helping behavior: Differences and similarities. European Psychologist, 11, 90–98. doi:10.1027/1016-9040.11.2.90.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Herek, G. M., & Capitanio, J. P. (1996). “Some of my best friends”: Intergroup contact, concealable stigma and heterosexuals’ attitudes toward gay men and lesbians. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 22, 412–424. doi:10.1177/0146167296224007.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Herek, G. M., & Capitanio, J. P. (1999). Sex differences in how heterosexuals think about lesbians and gay men: Evidence from survey context effects. Journal of Sex Research, 36, 348–360. doi:10.1080/00224499909552007.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Hill, D. B., & Willoughby, B. L. B. (2005). The development and validation of the Genderism and Transphobia Scale. Sex Roles, 53, 531–544. doi:10.1007/s11199-005-7140-x.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Hakansson, J., & Montgomery, H. (2003). Empathy as an interpersonal phenomenon. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, 20, 267–284. doi:10.1177/0265407503020003001.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Helmeke, K. B., & Prouty, A. M. (2001). Do we really understand? An experiential exercise for training family therapists. Journal of Marital and Family Therapy, 27, 535–544. doi:10.1111/j.1752-0606.2001.tb00346.x.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Irons, J. (1998). The shaping of activist recruitment and participation: A study of women in the Mississippi civil rights movement. Gender and Society, 12, 692–709. doi:10.1177/089124398012006006.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Johnson, M. E., Brems, C., & Alford-Keating, P. (1997). Personality correlates of homophobia. Journal of Homosexuality, 34(1), 57–69. doi:10.1300/J082v34n01_05.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Jordan, N. (Director) (1992). Crying Game. [Motion Picture]. Great Britain: Palace PicturesGoogle Scholar
  37. Kashdan, T. B., & Roberts, J. E. (2006). Affective outcomes in superficial and intimate interactions: Roles of social anxiety and curiosity. Journal of Research in Personality, 40, 140–167. doi:10.1016/j.jrp. 2004.10.005.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Karacanta, A., & Fitness, J. (2006). Majority support for minority out-groups: The roles of compassion and guilt. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 36, 2730–2749. doi:10.1111/j.0021-9029.2006.00125.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Kenagy, G. (2005). Transgender health: Findings from two needs assessment studies in Philadelphia. Health & Social Work, 30, 19–27.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Kimmel, M. S., & Mahler, M. (2003). Adolescent masculinity, homophobia, and violence. American Behavioral Scientist, 46, 1439–1458. doi:10.1177/0002764203046010010.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. 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
  42. Kozee, H. B., Tylka, T. L., & Bauerband, A. B. (2012). Measuring transgender individuals’ comfort with gender identity and appearance: Development and validation of the transgender congruence scale. Psychology of Women Quarterly, 36, 179–196. doi:10.1177/0361684312442161.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Kuehnle, K., & Sullivan, A. (2001). Patterns of anti-gay violence. An analysis of incident characteristics and victim reporting. Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 16, 928–943. doi:10.1177/088626001016009005.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. LaFramboise, S., & Long, B. (n.d.). An introduction to: Gender, transgender and transphobia. Retrieved from http://mypage.direct.ca/h/hrp/gendertr.html
  45. LaMar, L., & Kite, M. (1998). Sex differences in attitudes toward gay men and lesbians: A multidimensional perspective. Journal of Sex Research, 35, 189–196. doi:10.1080/00224499809551932.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Landolt, M. A., Bartholomew, K., Saffrey, C., Oram, D., & Perlman, D. (2004). Gender nonconformity, childhood rejection, and adult attachment: A study of gay men. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 33, 117–128. doi:10.1023/B:ASEB.0000014326.64934.50.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Leerkes, E. M., Parade, S. H., & Burney, R. V. (2010). Origins of mothers’ and fathers’ beliefs about infant crying. Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology, 31(6), 467–474. doi:10.1016/j.appdev.2010.09.003.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Lev, A. I. (2005). Disordering gender identity: Gender identity disorder in the DSM-IV-TR. Journal of Psychology and Human Sexuality, 17, 35–69.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Litman, J. A., & Pezzo, M. V. (2007). Dimensionality of interpersonal curiosity. Personality and Individual Differences, 43, 1448–1459. doi:10.1016/j.paid.2007.04.021.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Loewenstein, G. (1994). The psychology of curiosity: A review and reinterpretation. Psychological Bulletin, 116, 75–98. doi:10.1037/0033-2909.116.1.75.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Lombardi, E. (2009). Varieties of transgender/transsexual lives and their relationship with transphobia. Journal of Homosexuality, 56, 977–992. doi:10.1080/10918360903275393.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Lorber, J. (2005). Breaking the bowls. Degendering and feminist change. New York: W. W. Norton & Company.Google Scholar
  53. Mallon, G. P. (1999). Knowledge for practice with transgender persons. Journal of Gay & Lesbian Social Services, 10, 1–18. doi:10.1300/J04v10n03_01.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Mayer, J. D., & Salovey, P. (1990). Emotional intelligence. Imagination, Cognition, and Personality, 9, 185–211.Google Scholar
  55. Moran, L. J., & Sharpe, A. N. (2004). Violence, identity and policing: The case of violence against transgender people. Criminal Justice, 4, 395–417. doi:10.1177/14668025040048656.Google Scholar
  56. 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
  57. Nagoshi, J. L., Adams, K. A., Terrell, H. K., Hill, E. D., Brzuzy, S., & Nagoshi, C. T. (2008). Gender differences in correlates of homophobia and transphobia. Sex Roles, 59, 521–531. doi:10.1007/s11199-008-9458-7.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. Namaste, V. K. (2000). Invisible lives. The erasure of transsexual and transgendered people. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  59. 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
  60. Oswald, D. (2007). “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”: The influence of stigma concealing and perceived threat on perceivers’ reaction to a gay target. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 37(5), 928–947. doi:10.1111/j.1559-1816.2007.00193.x.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  61. Parrott, D. J., Adams, H. E., & Zeichner, A. (2002). Homophobia: Personality and attitudinal correlates. Personality and Individual Differences, 32, 1269–1278. doi:10.1016/S0191-8869(01)00117-9.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  62. Pearlman, S. F. (2006). Terms of connection: Mother-talk about female-to-male transgender children. Journal of GLBT Family Studies, 2(2/3), 93–122. doi:10.1300/J461v02n03_06.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  63. Poteat, V. P., & Espelage, D. L. (2005). Exploring the relation between bullying and homophobic verbal content: The homophobic content agent target (HCAT) Scale. Violence and Victims, 20, 513–528. doi:10.1891/vivi.2005.20.5.513.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  64. Rachlin, K. (2002). Transgender individuals’ experiences of psychotherapy. The International Journal of Transgenderism, 6. Retrieved from http://www.symposion.com/ijt/ijtvo06no01_03.htm.
  65. 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
  66. 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
  67. Reio, T. G., Petrosko, J. M., Wiswell, A. K., & Thongsukmag, J. (2006). The measurement and conceptualization of curiosity. The Journal of Genetic Psychology, 167, 117–135. doi:10.3200/GNTP.167.2.117-135.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  68. 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
  69. Schilt, K. (2006). Just one of the guys? How transmen make gender visible at work. Gender and Society, 20, 456–490. doi:10.1177/0891243206288077.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  70. Shelton, K., & Delgado-Romero, E. A. (2011). Sexual orientation microaggressions: The experience of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and queer clients in psychotherapy. Journal of Counseling Psychology, 58, 210–221. doi:10.1037/a0022251.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  71. Stotzer, R. L. (2009). Violence against transgender people: A review of United States data. Aggression and Violent Behavior, 14, 170–179. doi:10.1016/j.avb.2009.01.006.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  72. Tebbe, E. N., & Moradi, B. (2012). Anti-transgender prejudice: A structural equation model of associated constructs. Journal of Counseling Psychology, 59, 251–261. doi:10.1037/a0026990.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  73. Tucker, D. (Director) (2005). Transamerica. [Motion Picture]. United States: Belladonna Productions.Google Scholar
  74. 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
  75. 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
  76. Wilchins, R. (2004). Queer theory, gender theory. An instant primer. Los Angeles: Alyson Press.Google Scholar
  77. 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
  78. Winter, S., Webster, B., & Cheung, P. K. E. (2008). Measuring Hong Kong undergraduate students’ attitudes towards trans people. Sex Roles, 59, 670–683. doi:10.1007/s11199-008-9462-y.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  79. Witten, T., & Eyler, E. (1999). Hate crimes and violence against the transgendered. Peace Review, 11(3), 461–468. doi:10.1080/10402659908426291.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  80. 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

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Lynne Carroll
    • 1
  • Dominik Güss
    • 2
  • Kimberly S. Hutchinson
    • 3
  • Andy A. Gauler
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Public HealthUniversity of North FloridaJacksonvilleUSA
  2. 2.Department of PsychologyUniversity of North FloridaJacksonvilleUSA
  3. 3.Fielding Graduate UniversitySanta BarbaraUSA

Personalised recommendations