University of Delaware researchers examine hurdles faced by transgender candidates
By Charles J. Mays, Graduate Fellow for the University of Delaware's Center for Political Communication
Read the Journal of Politics article via link or PDF.
MARCH 11, 2019―University of Delaware research reveals that a political candidate's identification as transgender influences voter perception and negatively affects the candidate's chance of winning an election. Center for Political Communication affiliated faculty member Dr. Phil Jones and CPC Research Director Dr. Paul Brewer conducted the study to understand what voters infer from a candidate's gender identity and what effects if any, these inferences have on voter decisions. The Journal Of Politics published their article, entitled "Gender Identity as a Political Cue: Voter Responses to Transgender Candidates."
Using a set of experimental studies in which respondents were asked to assess candidates presented to them, Jones and Brewer discovered that when a candidate's gender identity as a transgender person was revealed, respondents were less likely to perceive the candidate as representative of them. Respondents were more likely to rate the transgender candidate as more liberal, out of sync with their preferences, and thus unlikely to receive to vote for them.
While the overall effect of knowing a political candidate was transgender was negative, the effect did vary across variables such as ideology, party identification, religiosity, and support for authoritarianism. The research noted that this effect persisted even when the transgender candidate's party was made known, as respondents were still more likely to perceive the transgender candidate to the left of the Democratic candidate whose gender identity was not made known. Overall, their research provides evidence that transgender individuals who run for office are more likely to be stereotyped, thus making their chances of success more difficult.