In response to the growing number of transgender characters on television, I explored how witnessing transgender representation on television is associated with an increase in viewers’ knowledge about the trans community, their empathy and understanding for the trans community, and their likelihood to advocate for the trans community. I hypothesized that witnessing trans representation on television is associated with greater understanding and empathy for the trans community, knowledge about trans experiences, and motivation to advocate for the trans community. The trans community specifically is becoming more visible thanks to television shows like Fox’s Pose. Gender and gender identity frameworks are nuanced but necessary for understanding and discussing the implications for representation of transgender people. In my research, I investigated in a multi-part survey questionnaire with 64 participants, completing various extents of it. The survey explored how viewing media with transgender representation was associated with participants’ self-reported takeaways from watching. From the responses, I gained insight as to how watching this representation was associated with participants’ responses to questions, which I designed to investigate the variables of interest to my hypothesis. I found there was significant positive associations between viewers’ amounts of trans representation watched overall and their reported greater levels of education and understanding about the trans community from watching. These greater levels of education and understanding from watching were significantly, positively associated with greater levels of willingness to advocate for the trans community and act in support of it with pronoun usage from watching. The results of this study have reaching implications about the associations between watching transgender representation on television viewer takeaways and greater levels of understanding for this community. From this we can understand how the increase in transgender representation in television may impact and continue to impact audience members.
Goodhand, Arianna S., "Transgendering Viewers of Television" (2021). Honors College Theses. 327.