Bringing "T" to the table: understanding individual support of transgender candidates for public office Article (Faculty180)

cited authors

  • Haider-Markel, Donald; Miller, Patrick; Flores, Andrew; Lewis, Daniel C; Tadlock, Barry; Taylor, Jami


  • Of central importance to groups is the representation of their interests in government. A direct strategy for representation is to elect officials that identify with the group. The lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) movement has increasingly been successful in fielding LGB candidates for local, state, and national offices, even though these candidates face barriers. But while many lesbian and gay candidates have achieved electoral success, few transgender candidates have run for office and even fewer have won. Our project examines the hurdles faced by transgender candidates and provides a predictive analysis of a unique 2015 national survey that queried American adult respondents about hypothetical transgender candidates for different political offices. We hypothesize that although transgender candidates are likely to be opposed by potential voters that would also oppose female, African-American, or gay or lesbian candidates, for transgender candidates, there is a stronger influence of respondent disgust sensitivity and gender nonconformity. The findings largely support our arguments. We conclude that transgender candidates are in a similar electoral position to gay and lesbian candidates, with likely supporters fitting a profile that is similar to the Democratic voter base. We discuss the implications of our findings for theories of minority group symbolic representation and democratic citizenship more broadly.


publication date

  • 2017

published in

start page

  • 399

end page

  • 417


  • 5