Abstract: Gender Differences in Correlates of Homophobia and Transphobia (Society for Social Work and Research 14th Annual Conference: Social Work Research: A WORLD OF POSSIBILITIES)

12430 Gender Differences in Correlates of Homophobia and Transphobia

Friday, January 15, 2010: 10:00 AM
Golden Gate (Hyatt Regency)
* noted as presenting author
Craig Nagoshi, PhD , Arizona State University, Associate Professor, Tempe, AZ
Background and Purpose: While there is a body of research on correlates and possible causes of homophobia, prejudice against homosexuals, there is little existing comparable research on transphobia, prejudice against transgenders. In the first of two quantitative questionnaire studies, a scale of prejudice against transgender individuals was developed, validated, and contrasted with a well-validated homophobia measure in a sample of straight college students. The questions of primary interest concerned whether the correlates (indicative of possible causes) of transphobia were the same as those for homophobia and whether there were significant gender differences in these correlates. The second study replicated the procedures of the first study in a sample of gay/lesbian students drawn from the same university population as the first study. The purpose of this second study was to assess if the correlates of homophobia and transphobia were the same in gays/lesbians as were found for the straight sample.

Method: In the first study 153 female and 157 male introductory psychology undergraduates completed a questionnaire. In the second study, a slightly shortened version of the questionnaire was completed by 30 gay male and 30 lesbian college students drawn from campus LGBT organizations.

Results: In the first study, for both sexes, transphobia and homophobia were highly correlated with each other and with right-wing authoritarianism, religious fundamentalism, and hostile sexism, but aggression proneness was predictive of transphobia and homophobia only in men. Benevolent sexism and rape myth acceptance were more predictive of transphobia and homophobia in women than men. With homophobia partialled out, authoritarianism, fundamentalism, and aggression proneness no longer predicted transphobia for men, but authoritarianism, fundamentalism, benevolent sexism, and rape myth acceptance continued to predict transphobia in women. In the second study, compared to the straight college students, gays/lesbians scored significantly lower than heterosexuals on homophobia, transphobia, religious fundamentalism, and homophobia. Compared to heterosexuals, there were much smaller mean gender differences for gays/lesbians for homophobia, aggressiveness, benevolent sexism, masculinity, and femininity. Religious fundamentalism, right-wing authoritarianism, and hostile and benevolent sexism were significantly correlated only with homophobia in lesbians, while fundamentalism and authoritarianism were significantly correlated with only transphobia in gay men.

Conclusions and Implications: For male straight college students, “conservative” social attitudes predicted both homophobia and transphobia, while for female straight college students, over and above the effects of general social conservatism, traditional beliefs specific to gender roles predicted transphobia but not homophobia. Meanwhile, conservative social attitudes were associated with gay men being particularly threatened by transgenders but lesbians being particularly threatened by homosexuals. This pattern of results can perhaps be explained by men perceiving a threat to male social dominance by any deviance from heternormativity, whether of gender role, gender identity, or sexual orientation, while women seeking social power through traditional gender roles or their sexuality mostly feel threatened by deviations just in these domains.