Factors Driving Stigma Against Transgender Individuals
Transgender individuals are subjected to alarming levels of violence and discrimination. This discrimination can also be seen at the systemic level, with it impacting housing and employment opportunities. However, it remains unclear what factors promote these negative views and prejudice. Due to this prejudice, transgender people can experience a significant decline in their mental health and physical health.
In some of our team’s research, we wanted to understand more about what drives this prejudice. In a study conducted by Jae A. Puckett, L. Zachary DuBois, & Cylie Hanson, they examined a number of factors that could play a role in these biases. In collaboration with Javien McNeill, they conducted an analysis to test whether social dominance orientation (a measure of an individual's support for group-based hierarchies) would be associated with higher levels of prejudice towards transgender individuals. They also hypothesized that this relationship would be partially explained by proneness to aggression and lower levels of critical consciousness. Critical consciousness represents an understanding of systems of power and privilege, one’s position in this system, and attempts to dismantle these systems of oppression. Therefore, a low level of critical consciousness would show that they are less likely to disrupt power structures in place.
Data were collected online from 158 cisgender women and 96 cisgender men with an average age of 30.81 years old. Participants were primarily white and heterosexual. Findings showed that social dominance orientation was related to prejudice against transgender people. It was found that this association was due partially to decreased critical consciousness. Even so, proneness to aggression did not help explain the association. As such, it seems that understandings of prejudice are more so based in systemic issues and systems of power and privilege rather than individual variability in levels of aggression. It is imperative to focus on the systems of power that are in place and that reinforce social dominance orientation, as well as how these systems impact marginalized groups.
For the full research article, see:
Puckett, J. A., DuBois, L. Z., McNeill, J. N., & Hanson, C. L. (2020). The association between social dominance orientation, critical consciousness, and gender minority stigma. Journal of Homosexuality, 67, 1081-1096. doi: 10.1080/00918369.2019.1603493