What beliefs influence children and young people’s attitudes towards the transgender population?

Authors: Jenna Read, Cora Sargeant and Sarah Wright
Published: 2020
Publication: Educational and Child Psychology

Aims: This review aims to identify and explore the specific beliefs that influence children and young people’s (CYP’s) attitudes towards the transgender population.
Method: A systematic review of the literature was undertaken and a total of 14 studies were included in the review. The review included studies from the United States, Europe, and Asia. Each study was appraised using Gough’s (2007) Weight of Evidence Framework and awarded a quality assurance rating of low, medium, or high quality.
Findings: The review identified three sets of beliefs that appear to influence CYP’s attitudes towards the transgender population: Heteronormativity, conservatism and gender essentialism. Gender differences in beliefs were found to influence attitudes towards the transgender population as a whole and towards Male-to-Female (MtF) individuals and Female-to-Male (FtM) individuals.
Limitations: The key limitation within this review is that the mechanisms through which beliefs influence CYP attitudes are hypothetical. Further insight using qualitative approaches would deepen the understanding of the underpinnings of attitudes towards the transgender population, particularly transprejudice. A variety of measures were used across the included studies which limits the comparability
of the finding and conclusions drawn
Conclusions: This review identified three sets of beliefs that influence attitudes towards the transgender population. These beliefs represent a traditional, binary model of gender that contrasts with the experiences of gender-diverse populations. A more inclusive model of gender is proposed whereby acceptance, diversity and belonging are promoted.

Read, J., Sargeant, C. & Wright, S. (2020) What beliefs influence children and young people’s attitudes towards the transgender population? Educational and Child Psychology, (37)1, 11-36.

Download (pre-publication version)