Why do trans individuals so often face stigma and discrimination?

Why do trans individuals so often face stigma and discrimination?

The answer resides in how people are socialized to understand and enact gender. A large body of scholarly research in social and developmental psychology has demonstrated that gendered behavior is learned: From a young age, boys and girls are encouraged to display stereotypically gendered behaviors and discouraged from displaying non-normative ones. Just think about the tradition of giving pink items to baby girls and blue items to baby boys. The preference for these colors has no biological roots; in fact, pink was once considered the more “masculine” color. Yet over time little boys come to prefer blue and little girls come to prefer pink; they are subtly rewarded for liking their respective colors and may even be chastised for liking the other color. Moreover, children pick up on subtle genuine hookup sites uk signals from their parents and important others who enforce gender stereotypes. For example, when donning female garments during dress-up, girls might be told they look pretty, while boys might be told they look silly. Children seek to fulfill gender expectations in order to secure parental and, later, peer acceptance. As we grow up, it becomes difficult to distinguish between expressions of gender we actually prefer and those we have been socially rewarded for.

As a result of this socialization, gender norms provide perhaps the most basic organizing framework by which people define themselves and others. And because they are widely shared and deeply rooted, they are extremely difficult to change. Thus trans people face a unique quandary.

Unfortunately, such situations most often mean that trans individuals are stigmatized-that is, socially devalued-providing a basis for discrimination against them. Studies suggest that the costs of that stigma and discrimination are steep. For example, a 2015 survey of 27,715 trans individuals residing in the United States revealed that a staggering 77% of those who had held a job in the year prior took active steps to avoid mistreatment at work, such as hiding their gender identity, delaying their gender transition (or living as their true selves only after work and on weekends), refraining from asking their employers to use their correct pronouns (he, she, they, ze), or quitting their jobs. And nearly a quarter reported other types of mistreatment based on their gender identity or expression-for example, being required to present as the sex assigned to them at birth to keep a job, having private information about their trans identity shared without permission, or being denied access to bathrooms that align with their gender identity. Such experiences may be compounded for a trans person who holds more than one stigmatized identity-for example, a black trans woman.

For example, when a trans woman-whose sex was assigned male at birth and who knows herself to be female-adopts typically female clothing and jewelry, she breaks with expectations regarding how she should define and express her gender

Research also suggests that stigma and discrimination can result in ruminative thoughts, a negative self-image, hopelessness, social isolation, and alcohol abuse or other dysfunctional coping behaviors. Such responses pave the way for even greater mental health challenges, including major depression and anxiety.

Sixty-seven percent reported negative outcomes such as being fired or forced to resign, not being hired, or being denied a promotion

In one of our own investigations, we collected daily survey data from 105 trans employees in the United States across two workweeks. The results revealed that 47% of participants experienced at least some discriminatory behavior on a daily basis at work, such as being the target of transphobic remarks, being ignored, or being pressured to act in “traditionally gendered” ways. They reported robust increases in hypervigilance and rumination at work the day following such an experience. The extent to which they had to be “on guard” around their coworkers and try to make sense of negative events predicted their emotional exhaustion during the workday.