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Research shows that a 10 minute conversation can stop transphobia

Sharon Mollerus/Flickr, CC-BY 2.0
Good talk.
  • Kate Groetzinger
By Kate Groetzinger

Ideas fellow

This article is more than 2 years old.

Door-to-door canvassing can combat transphobia, according to a new study published in Science by researchers from Stanford University and the University of California, Berkeley. Results from the study show that a 10-to-15 minute conversation with a volunteer canvasser had a lasting effect on the opinion of one-out-of-10 voters who did not support equal rights for transgender people before the encounter.

The researchers who conducted this study, David Broockman and Joshua Kalla, disproved a similar study on the effectiveness of door-to-door canvassing published in Science in 2014. That study, which found that gay canvassers were able to change the opinions of people who were opposed to marriage equality with a 20 minute conversation about their beliefs, was redacted by Science last year after Broockman and Kalla raised concerns that its findings were based on falsified data. 

Aside from being legitimate, the results of Broockman and Kalla’s study differ from the disproved study in one important way: The canvassers in the new study were not all transgender people, whereas the canvassers in the disproved study were all gay. Whether or not the canvasser was transgender had no bearing on the effectiveness of the canvassing.

The researchers believe a method called “deep canvassing” was responsible for the canvassers’ success in changing people’s minds. In deep canvassing, canvassers ask people to reflect on their views toward transgender people, rather than reciting a memorized speech to them.

Despite the recent shift in public opinion toward gay marriage in the United States, support for transgender equality remains low. Only 13% of people who do not know a transgender person support equal rights for transgender people, according to a study commissioned by Human Rights Campaign last year.

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