This study simulated online dating profiles to find evidence of transphobia
A study by researchers at Indiana University found that straight people are less attracted to trans people — regardless of how good looking that person is.
319 cisgender and heterosexual college students participated in the study, published in the Journal of
Social Psychological and Personality Science. The purpose of the study was to find evidence of transphobia on dating apps.
‘Anecdotal evidence suggests that some transgender people find that others seem less sexually or romantically attracted to them once they learn of their transgender status, so we decided to study that issue rigorously,’ study author Eliot Smith said.
Each of the 319 students saw 48 fake online dating profiles, with the gender identity randomly assigned. The participants then rated the attractiveness of each profile.
‘The gender identity labels had a strong, pervasive effect on ratings of attraction. Nonbinary and especially transgender targets were perceived as less attractive than cisgender targets. The effect was particularly strong for male perceivers, and for women with traditional gender attitudes,’ the study’s abstract reads.
‘Sexual and romantic attraction are not driven solely by sexed appearance; information about gender identity and transgender status also influences these assessments. These results have important implications for theoretical models of sexual orientation and for the dating lives of transgender people.’
‘Cisgender, heterosexual college students report being less sexually attracted to others (represented by photos) who are labeled as transgender or nonbinary, compared to cisgender,’ Smith said.
‘This difference is not due to differences in physical appearance because we randomly presented gender identity labels with the same set of photos. The effect appears to represent a type of prejudice against individuals with non-cisgender identities.’
According to the study, straight cisgender women were as likely to say they’d befriend a trans or nonbinary person as a cis person. However, the straight cisgender men were less likely to want to be friends with trans and nonbinary people.
‘As a social psychologist, I have long been interested in person perception. This topic (perception of people and how it may change depending on their gender and transgender identity) is timely, as many social network and dating websites are now allowing users to select from a wide variety of identity labels beyond just “male” and “female,”’ Smith explained.
Moving forward, Smith would like to conduct similar studies.
‘It would be of great interest to study attractiveness ratings made by transgender or non-heterosexual individuals,’ he told LGBTQ Nation.