Reducing transphobia, one conversation at a time

A recent study published in Science shows that personal conversation—with an emphasis on actively taking another person’s perspective—can reduce anti-transgender prejudice for up to 3 months.

Most research to date (and many people’s personal experiences) show that changing deeply ingrained prejudices is challenging and can be difficult to achieve through any technique. Mass media is particularly poor at altering these closely held beliefs. This research team, lead by scientists from UC Berkeley and Stanford, sent volunteers to speak with one-on-one voters in Miami, Florida about trans* individuals and rights.

The canvassers knocked on doors, unannounced, and asked questions such as whether the voter had ever been “judged negatively for being different.” Canvassers also told the voters that they may be asked to vote on transgender rights legislation in the near future. Remarkably, these short conversation resulted in voters who viewed trans* individuals more favorably, compared to voters who did not speak with a canvasser. This trend lasted up to three months, and voters did not revert to former beliefs after watching attack ads. Voters also viewed nondiscrimination laws more favorably after speaking with the canvasser.

This study should give trans* rights activists—and other canvassers—optimism on their ability to change deeply ingrained personal beliefs.

The article full can be found here.

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