Transgender people aren’t viewed as attractive dating partners, according to a July study showing that gender identity accords with how others view their level of physical attractiveness.
“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,” one of the study’s authors, Eliot R. Smith, said, PsyPost reported Tuesday.
The study, “How Gender Identity and Transgender Status Affect Perceptions of Attractiveness,” was first published in the journal Social Psychological and Personality Science on July 27.
The researchers gathered their results by providing 342 non-transgender college students with the profiles of 48 potential partners of the opposite biological sex. The students viewed their potential partners on a dating profile that included a picture of the partner’s face and information about gender identity and race. The students then rated their potential partners on level of attractiveness.
“The gender identity labels had a strong, pervasive effect on ratings of attraction,” the study found. “Nonbinary and especially transgender targets were perceived as less attractive than cisgender targets.” The researchers also found that those results were most prevalent among males as well as women with “traditional” attitudes towards gender.
The difference in physical attractiveness ratings weren’t because of the physical appearance in the photo, however, because the researchers randomly rotated gender identity labels using the same set of photos. “The effect appears to represent a type of prejudice against individuals with non-cisgender identities,” the study authors concluded. (RELATED: How Transgender ‘Revolution’ Is Sweeping Through Hollywood)
Women were more likely to befriend non-cisgender individuals while males were far less likely to do so, the researchers found. “In contrast, male participants’ ratings of openness to friendship paralleled their ratings of sexual attraction, with lower ratings given to nonbinary and transgender others,” Smith told PsyPost.
Smith explained that perception of gender identity is especially timely given that a number of social media platforms and dating apps now allow users to identify as transgender.
Smith did note, however, that the study “is unrealistic in that participants knew they would not actually be meeting or dating the individuals they were rating.”
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