Analyzing data from the Pew Research Center’s American Trends Panel (N = 4573; August–September 2017), the study considers the influence of experience with gender discrimination, perceptions of gender differences between men and women, and the personal importance of gender conformity on support for transgender identity and societal acceptance of transgender individuals. While controlling for demographics, political and religious predispositions, values, and social contact, the results suggest that those who have experienced gender discrimination are more likely to support transgender identity and the argument that society has not gone far enough in terms of transgender acceptance. These individuals exhibit group empathy and express solidarity and a shared experience with their transgender counterparts. In contrast, those who perceive that men and women are significantly different with respect to gender and those who indicate that gender conformity is personally important to them are less likely to accept transgender identity and also less likely to support further acceptance of transgender individuals in society. The implications of these findings and the importance of strategic messaging are discussed in light of the increasingly polarized political climate surrounding transgender rights and issues.
By Amy B. Becker and Philip Edward Jones, 2020