Flores, Andrew R; Haider-Markel, Donald P; Lewis, Daniel C; Miller, Patrick R; Tadlock, Barry L; Taylor, Jami K
Social categorization processes may be initiated by physical appearance, which have the potential to influence how people evaluate others. Categorizations ground what stereotypes and prejudices, if any, become activated. Gender is one of the first features people notice about others. Much less is known about individuals who may
transgress gender expectations, including people who are transgender. Using an experiment, this study investigates whether the attitudes that people have about transgender people and rights are influenced by information and facial images. We hypothesize that mere exposure to transgender people, via information and
images of faces, should be a source of prejudice reduction. We randomly provide participants with vignettes defining transgender and also randomize whether these vignettes come with facial images, varying the physical features of gendered individuals. We find our treatments have lower levels of discomfort and transphobia but
have little effect on transgender rights attitudes. We further find that the impacts are stronger among Democrats than among Republicans. Our findings support the argument that people are in general unfamiliar with transgender people, and the mere exposure to outgroups can be a source of prejudice reduction.