Previous research often suggests that people who endorse more essentialist beliefs about social groups are also likely to show increased prejudice towards members of these social groups, and there is even some evidence to suggest that essentialism may lead to prejudice and stereotyping. However, there are several notable exceptions to this pattern in that, for certain social groups (e.g., gay men and lesbians), higher essentialism is actually related to lower prejudice. The current studies further explored the relationship between essentialism and prejudice by examining a novel type of essentialism - transgender essentialism (i.e., essentializing transgender identity), and its relationship to prejudice towards transgender people. Study 1 (N = 248) tested the viability of transgender essentialism as a construct and examined the association between transgender essentialism and transprejudice, while Studies 2a (N = 315), 2b (N = 343), 3a (N = 310), and 3b (N = 204) tested two casual pathways to explain this relationship. The results consistently showed that the more that people endorse transgender essentialist beliefs, the warmer their feelings towards trans people (relative to cis people) were, echoing past research showing a similar relationship between essentialism and prejudice towards sexual minorities. However, the manipulations of both essentialism (Studies 2a and 2b) and prejudice (Studies 3a and 3b) were largely unsuccessful at changing the desired construct, meaning we were unable to provide direct causal tests. The one exception was a successful manipulation of the universality of trans experiences, but even here this resulted in no change in prejudice. The primary contribution of this work is in robustly demonstrating that greater transgender essentialism is associated with transprejudice.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- General Psychology
- Transgender essentialism