Request for participants in a study about sexism as experienced and viewed by transgender individuals

November 17, 2009

ETA, 21 November: Caitlyn has issued the following update:

First of all, I would like to thank you very much for allowing us to get the ball rolling on the Sexism survey. Unfortunately, due to some unforeseen errors within our questionnaire, we are canceling the study for now. At some point, we may look at the issue of sexism as seen by transgender people again, but for now we’re tabling it

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I’ve received the following request via email and hope that some of you will be able to assist Caitlyn by taking part in this survey:

Hello, my name is Caitlyn Benoit, and I’m a member of a research team out of the Psychology Department at Southwestern Illinois College, an accredited school in the St. Louis Metro East area. Our research group is conducting a study about sexism as experienced and viewed by transgender individuals.

The best way to address what we hope to learn from this study is by starting with what we’re not trying to accomplish. We are not trying to document the transgender experience; we are specifically studying sexism. We believe that transsexual individuals – having experienced life as both genders – can offer valuable insight as to how members of each sex are perceived and treated in the workplace, relationships, schools, and other areas.

This study is being headed by Dr. Barbara Hunter, a psychology professor and active ally to the LGBT community. All student members of the research team are psychology students and either allies to or members of the LGBT community.

As responsible researchers, the privacy of our subjects is absolutely paramount. We understand the extremely personal nature of some of the information that may be disclosed in the course of this study. When considering how to maintain anonymity, we ask ourselves, “How would I want my privacy handled?” The only source of identifying information we have included is an optional contact information page at the end of the survey. Should you choose to provide us with this information, it will be reviewed only by members of the research team and kept separate from the actual survey packet; responses will in no way be attributable to the individuals from which they were received.

We acknowledge that this study does not lend itself to the inclusion of those outside the gender binary. This is not a willful exclusion of those individuals, but in an attempt to understand sexism as it applies to and affects us all, we must first understand gender roles in the context of society at large, which unfortunately necessitates that we limit the scope of this study at this time. We hope to investigate the issues facing genderqueer and genderneutral individuals in the future.

Thank you very much for your time and participation, and if you have any questions, feel free to contact me personally at kbenoit242@att.net and thank you in advance for any data you are able to give us.

Thank you,
Caitlyn Benoit

The study may be found here.

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Cross-posted at Questioning Transphobia

3 Responses to “Request for participants in a study about sexism as experienced and viewed by transgender individuals”

  1. dctranscoalition Says:

    hmm I sort of wonder about one of the underlying assumptions these researchers are making: “transsexual individuals – having experienced life as both genders – can offer valuable insight as to how members of each sex are perceived and treated”

    Sure, this might apply to a lot of trans folks, but the assumption that all transsexuals “know what it’s like to be treated as both a man and a woman” is kinda… problematic. Although sure, I was assigned male at birth and perceived as male for part of my life, I never really saw myself that way, and very often was not seen that way by others. So I’m not actually sure I ever saw sexism from a “male” perspective. Also, I transitioned pretty young, and so I’m not sure that I actually have as much insight as they think!

    This is still an interesting study, but I think it would be more interesting to see how trans people experience sexism *as trans women or men*, rather than assuming that trans women experience sexism first as (cis) male, then as (cis) female (and vise versa).
    -sadie

  2. Caitlyn Benoit Says:

    What we’re mostly trying to focus on is how people treat each other differently based on sex stereotypes or biased beliefs that link back to sexism. Prior to transition, we’re still treated as if we were the person our body dictated us to be. After we transition, we are then treated as most people see us. What the research group is wanting is a comparison between the two experiences.

    Maybe there IS a difference between how transsexual people see sexism as opposed to how cisgendered people see it? That’s part of what we’re trying to find out with this study and not only educate cisgendered people about how it’s different for us, but educate other transgendered people.

  3. Steph Says:

    This sounds a pretty interesting study to me.

    My own interpretation, fwiw, isn’t that they are making an assumption that a trans person can see the sexism from a male and/or female perspective, but more that how that trans person experiences this sexism, based on how they are perceived by (cis) people around them – which so often falls outside of our control as trans people.

    I have experienced sexism at work (I work in IT for a public sector organisation), and although it has not been overt, or institutional in nature, it is often those subtle things.

    To offer a personal example, I’ve experienced a couple of (cis) male colleagues where prior to transition, they would always respect and listen to my opinions on technical matters in meetings, now post-transition, will tend to favour other (cis) male colleagues opinions over mine – in one case, I said something which they basically ignored/glossed over, only for a (cis) male colleague to say exactly the same thing and they were then in agreement! Something that I know that my (cis) female colleagues have also experienced.


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