A 10-minute in-depth conversation can lower transgender prejudice, a new study suggested. Findings can help address the widespread discrimination as well as the high homicidal rate linked to these biases.
In the study, two researchers from the University of California, Berkeley tried the 'deep canvassing' method, which is commonly used in political campaigns, to see the people's thoughts on transgender rights.
But compared to the conventional canvassing method, the researchers decided on a more intimate approach. They engaged registered voters in a 10- to 15-minute in-depth conversation about transgender individuals.
During the conversations, they asked the votes to reflect on their own past, personal experiences wherein they felt they were not treated fairly because they perceived as different.
Majority of the 56 trained canvassers were from SAVE, a Florida-based LGBT advocacy group, and some were transgender themselves. The canvassers talked to 501 registered voters during the study period.
"We help voters remember and then speak aloud their own real lived experience that is most analogous to the experience at hand," said David Fleischer, the Los Angeles LGBT Center's Leadership LAB director.
After the quick but in-depth conversation, the voters answered the same questionnaire they've completed prior to the deep canvassing. These questions asked them to gauge how they felt - positively or negatively - towards transgender individuals on a scale of 0 to 100.
The voters who had personal experiences on biases had more positive views towards transgender people on average. The study found that deep canvassing managed to change the views of about 1 in 10 voters. The researchers noted that the findings were "greater than Americans' average decrease in homophobia from 1998 to 2012."
They found that deep canvassing was effective across various demographics and the 10- to 15-minute conversations worked well over time. Six weeks after the initial canvassing, the canvassers showed the votes advertisements that were anti-transgender but the deep canvassing stayed strong.
In a 2015 poll from the University of Illinois Springfield, researchers found that 81 percent of Americans expressed that transgender individuals deserve the same protection and rights as the non-transgender people.
The research was published in the Science journal on April 8.
Photo: Pedro Ribeiro Simões | Flickr