Contextual Factors Influencing Perceptions of Transgender Friends' Self-Disclosure: A Vignette Study
Transgender individuals experience more discrimination and public stigma than cisgender individuals, leading to higher rates of homicide and suicide. Due to public stigma and cissexism (the conception that it is the societal norm to be cisgender), disclosing as transgender may be very difficult. Recipient reactions may vary by contextual factors including type of disclosure, passing, and recipient and discloser gender. The purpose of this study is to investigate the contextual factors that influence attitudes towards a transgender individual that disclosed through hypothetical vignettes. The current study also tested a moderated mediation model to determine the effects of disclosure type on negative affect mediated by perceived deception, with the first stage moderated by transphobia, passing, participant gender, and discloser gender. Participants (N = 583) were cisgender college students who were randomly assigned to read one of eight vignettes that described the disclosure of a transgender friend. Following the vignette, participants responded to items about their positive and negative affect, feelings of perceived deception, feelings of avoidance, state anger, attitudes towards transgender individuals, transgender attitudes and beliefs, transphobia, and feelings of warmth towards the discloser. All measured variables differed significantly by participant gender, with men holding more negative attitudes towards transgender individuals than women. Second, results for the moderated mediation analyses indicated that transphobia interacted with disclosure type at moderate and high levels to predict negative affect through perceived deception. While passing, and participant and discloser gender did not interact with disclosure type, they are still important factors to consider in future research. Results suggest several implications for education efforts of incoming college students to lessen the burden of disclosing to peers for transgender individuals.