U.S Attitudes Towards Transgender People

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20th Feb 2019 Human Rights Reference this

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In the United States, there are unassigned “rules” and standards of which people are expected to conform to, gender being one of them. Throughout history people have only known two types of sex, female and male, but what about other gender identities?  People tend to develop attitudes about those who identify themselves as the opposite gender. These attitudes are influenced by a variety of factors: religion, morals, political ideology, just to name a few. I wanted to see what really influences the attitudes the nation holds towards transgender people. The articles I discuss address U.S. attitudes towards those individuals and provide insight of why they feel have those attitudes.

The article, “Heterosexuals’ Attitudes Towards Transgender People: Finding from a National Probability Sample of U.S Adults,” by Aaron T. Norton and Gregory M. Herek, introduces a study that describes the correlations of men’s and women’s attitudes towards transgender people. They surveyed 2,281 participants, and the survey focused on five hypotheses, each hypothesis focusing on different aspects that contribute towards heterosexual men and women attitudes towards transgender people. The first, “heterosexuals’ attitudes toward transgender people are positively correlated with their attitudes toward sexual minorities” (Norton & Herek, 2012, p.5). The participant’s attitudes were measured with a series of feeling thermometers, and the participants were told, “using a scale from zero to 100, please tell us your personal feelings toward each of the following groups… The warmer or more favorable you feel toward the group, the higher the number you should give it,” vis-versa. (Norton & Herek, 2010, p. 6). If the participant felt neither warm or cold toward the group, they would rate it 50 (Norton & Herek, 2012, p. 6). The participants were also told to use a 5- point scale, ranging from strongly agree to strongly disagree, for Attitudes Towards Lesbians (ATL) and Attitudes Towards Gay Men (ATG) (Norton & Herek, 20102, p.6). The higher the scores indicated higher levels of sexual prejudice. The results for this hypothesis show that transgender people are highly correlated with the four sexual minority groups: gay men, lesbian women, bisexual men, and bisexual women, and they are also negatively correlated with the scores of the ATG and ATL. (Norton & Herek, 2012, p.7).

Like the first hypotheses, the four-other focus on similar aspects that correlates towards the negative attitudes people have towards transgender people. The second hypothesis states, “they [attitudes] are more negative among men than women,” was proven to be true (Norton & Herek, 2012, p.4). According to the study heterosexual man have more negative ratings to all “men” targets (Norton & Herek, 2012, p.8). Men also scored higher than women, meaning greater prejudice on both the ATG and ATL scale. Hypothesis three stated that “to the extent heterosexual respondents endorse a binary, conception of gender, their attitudes toward transgender people are more negative” (Norton & Herek, 2012, p.4). 46.5% agreed that “there is not enough respect for their natural divisions between the sexes,” while 19.5% disagreed, and 34.0% reported they were “in the middle.” In all the results concluded that attitudes towards transgender people were correlated with endorsement of gender binary beliefs (Norton & Herek, 2012, p.8). “Transgender attitudes are correlated with the same social psychological variables that have consistently been observed to correlate with heterosexuals” attitudes toward sexual minorities, is what the fourth hypothesis stated” (Norton & Herek, 2012, p.4). This hypothesis looks at four different correlations: authoritarianism, political ideology, religion, and personal contact with sexual minorities of attitudes toward transgender people. I focused on three of the four, political ideology, religion, and personal contact with sexual minorities. 48.2% described their political ideology was moderate, while 26.5% were liberal and 30.7% were conservative (Norton & Herek, 2012, p. 9). The conservative respondents gave lower thermometer rating (25.39%), followed by moderate (32.18%), then liberals (39.23%), thus meaning that conservative individuals had more negative, prejudice attitudes toward transgender people (Norton & Herek, 2012, p.9). The second of the four correlations I focused on was religion. It was found that women who have “a great deal” of religious guidance in their day-to-day living, had transgender ratings that were significantly more negative (Norton & Herek, 2012, p. 9). The results also concluded that prior contact with gay or lesbian people meant that thermometer scores were higher, less prejudice, than respondents who had lacked such contact (Norton & Herek, 2012, p.9). The fifth and last hypothesis that the survey tested was, “men’s attitudes toward both groups are linked I similar ways to the variables specified in hypotheses 3 and 4… If sexual prejudice is controlled, between those variables and men’s transgender attitudes should be reduced to no significance consistent with previous findings.” (Norton & Herek, 2012, p. 4). While hypothesis five had little support, it concluded that heterosexual men’s attitudes toward transgender people and their political and gender beliefs reduced when their attitudes toward gay men were statistically controlled (Norton & Herek, 2012, p. 110). It also concluded that with ATG scores controlled, women’s attitudes were predicted by “authoritarianism and anti-egalitarianism,” and so were men’s; showing gender differences in the psychological roots of transgender attitudes were not observed (Norton & Herek, 2012, p.11).    

Aaron Norton and Gregory Herek’s article about the attitudes heterosexuals have about transgender people was very interesting, I found that the study focused on some of the main aspects that influence heterosexuals’ attitudes towards transgender people in the U.S. I also gained knowledge about why people may have such attitudes. I feel that the content included throughout this article is very relevant with some of the topics we have discussed in class, such as, ‘ethic, religions, and sexuality’, and gender identity as a whole. The article included many finding that I agree with. One being that, “attitudes towards transgender people were more negative among heterosexual men than heterosexual women” (Norton & Herek, 2012, p.1). I believe that to be true, statistics prove it, but also though out the community I live in. I have observed the attitudes and stigmatizations transgender people face in my community, and I have witness more negative attitudes coming from the heterosexual men that I have contact with. I also agree that being exposed to more sexual minorities, leads to people having less sexual prejudice toward transgender people. I have found that by having contact with those who identify as lesbian or gay, makes me more accepting of transgender people. I believe that the survey as a whole helps readers gain more knowledge about the prejudice attitudes people, especially heterosexuals, have towards transgender individuals within the Unites States.

The article, “Boys Don’t Cry’ or Do They? Attitudes Toward and Beliefs About Transgender Youth,” by Hogler Elischberger, Jessica Glazier, Eric Hill, and Lynn Baker-Verduzco present a survey study that examines the attitudes U.S. adults have toward transgender children and adolescents. There were 281 individuals (128 male, 152 females, and 1 missing information) that participated in the survey and reported that had “generally favorable attitudes toward transgender minors” (Elischberger, Glazier, Hill, Verduzco, 2016, p. 199). The survey first assesses the attitude adults had toward transgender people by asking a series of questions. It then assesses their behavior intentions with two hypothetical situations. The study concluded with the ‘presumed causes of gender atypicality, where the participants were asked to indicate how strongly biological (nature) and environmental (nurture) cause affect atypical behavior (Elischberger et. al., 2016, p.203).

The article, “Boys Don’t Cry’ or Do They? Attitudes Toward and Beliefs About Transgender Youth,” by Hogler Elischberger, Jessica Glazier, Eric Hill, and Lynn Baker-Verduzco presents a survey study that examines the attitudes U.S. adults have toward transgender children and adolescents. There were 281 individuals (128 male, 152 females, and 1 missing information) that participated in the survey and reported that had “generally favorable attitudes toward transgender minors” (Elischberger, Glazier, Hill, Verduzco, 2016, p. 199). The survey first assesses the attitude adults had toward transgender people by asking a series of questions. It then assesses their behavior intentions with two hypothetical situations. The study concluded with the ‘presumed causes of gender atypicality, where the participants were asked to indicate how strongly biological (nature) and environmental (nurture) cause affect atypical behavior (Elischberger et. al., 2016, p.203).   

The survey first assesses the participants attitudes, with a series of attitude statements. The participants used a 10-point Likert type scale ranging from 1, completely disagree, and 10, completely agree to see rate their attitudes toward the list of statements provided.  The statements given included “Personally, I view this gender atypical behavior as a problem because …Six of these statements were provided that differed in terms of the reason cited for the disapproval: …it is against my morals, …it contradicts my religious views, B…it will hurt the child’s [teenager’s] current relationships with their peers, B…it will be a bad influence on other children [teenagers],…it may have an effect on the child’s [teenager’s] sexual orientation …it goes against nature. A seventh option, the child’s behavior is not wrong for any one specific reason, it is just inappropriate” (Elischberger et. al., 2016 p.201). These statements allowed the participants to express their attitudes without giving a specific reason. The attitudes result for this part of the survey, although relatively low, showed that attitudes were less positive in the participants who had religious affiliation, conservative social-political views, and stronger conformity to certain traditional gender norms; however, the endorsement level of participants was highest (7.34 out of 10) with the statement, “I do not find the behavior a problem” (Elischberger et. al., 2016, p. 202). Thus, meaning that the majority of participates did not have a problem with transgender people.

The second part of the survey consisted of how participants might act in two hypothetical situations that involved a gender-atypical child or adolescent. The scenarios were (a) using the restroom appropriate for their gender opposed to sex, and (b) sharing a cabin/room on a school trip with peers of the same gender (Elischberger et. al., 2016, p.203). The participants were asked to put themselves into the positions of the: parent of the nonconforming child, the parent of one of the child’s peers, the child’s teacher, and a school administer (Elischberger et. al., 2016, p.203). The response ranged on a 1(lowest and 10 (highest) possible scores, with higher numbers indicating a “stronger intent to limit gender expression in each scenario” (Elischberger et. al., 2016, p. 203). On average, all the average results ranged between 4 and 6. In the restroom scenario, the results indicated that if the participant was the parent of the transgender child they would more than likely want their child to use the restroom of which they identified with, however, if they were in the administrator position they would be less likely to want that child to use their assigned restroom (Elischberger et. al., 2016, p.203).

In the third part of the survey was ‘Presumed Causes of Gender Atypically.’ This part consisted of asking the participants to indicate how strongly they believed different factors cause gender atypical behaviors. The participants determined whether biological (nature) causes genetics, hormones, and brain development, or, environmental (nurture) cause: mother, father, media, and other environment caused gender atypicality (Elischberger et. al., 2016, p. 203). The results showed that on average the participants agreed that environmental factors played more of a role in gender atypicality than biological factors. It shows that the participants believed other environmental factors and media were the highest causes of gender atypicality. 

I find the research done in the “Boys Don’t Cry’ or Do They? Attitudes Toward and Beliefs About Transgender Youth,” to be very interesting. I believe that I am, and am becoming, more open to allowing transgender people express their gender identity. I agree that the media and environmental factors play a key role in gender atypicality, but I also believe that it comes from within. This article includes some stuff that we have discussed in class, but we have yet to go into depth about transgender people, so I am not able to find a lot of connections between the class content specifically. Discussing the research that is found in this article would be beneficial for a larger population because it assesses the attitudes of people who believe that they are “okay” with transgender children and adolescence, and determine if they actually are.

Overall, both articles included information that was accurate to how the U.S. populations feel towards transgender people. They both state that being more religious and having more conservative values correlate to people having more prejudice attitudes towards transgender people. If I were able to conduct my own study or include a category, I would include children’s point of view. I know they would not fully understand all the factors that go into nonconforming or transgender individuals, but I believe it would be interesting to do a study that focused on how their mindset changes over the years about the topic and what, if any, biological and environmental aspects contribute to their attitudes. 

References

Elischberger, H. B., Glazier, J. J., Hill, E. D., & Verduzco-Baker, L. (2016, March 22). “Boys Don’t Cry”-or Do They? Adult Attitudes Toward and Beliefs About Transgender Youth. Retrieved March 23, 2018, from https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s11199-016-0609-y

Norton, A. T., & Herek, G. M. (2013, June 01). Heterosexuals Attitudes Toward Transgender             People: Findings from a National Probability Sample of U.S. Adults. Retrieved March 22, 2018, from https://www.scholars.northwestern.edu/en/publications/heterosexuals-attitudes-toward-transgender-people-findings-from-a

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