Date of Award

Spring 2017

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts



First Advisor

H. Robert Outten


This study attempts to build on recent research that suggests that cisgender women, on average, tend to experience heightened distinctiveness threat and prejudiced responses at the thought of sharing traditional women-only spaces with trans women (i.e., Outten, Lee, & Lawrence, 2017). Specifically, we examined whether, relative to receiving information that a woman’s college would ban trans women from attending, cisgender women would experience greater distinctiveness threat and negative feelings toward trans women if they learned that a women’s college would accept applications from trans women. Based on social identity and liberal feminist theories we tested a moderation mediation model whereby the indirect effect of thinking about trans women being allowed to attend a fictitious women’s college on intergroup emotions (i.e., heightened anger and fear toward trans women; and decreased sympathy toward trans women) would be mediated by distinctiveness threat. We predicted that liberal feminist gender ideology and gender identification would moderate this indirect effect; such that cisgender women who weakly embraced a liberal feminist gender ideology and strongly identified as women would express stronger negative emotional reactions toward trans women after thinking about a fictitious women’s college accepting applications from trans women via distinctiveness threat. Contrary to our mediational hypothesis, results revealed that distinctiveness threat did not mediate the effect of policy allowing trans women to attend a woman’s college on cisgender women’s emotional responses. Thus, we abandoned testing a moderated mediational model and instead examined whether gender ideology and gender identification moderated the direct effect of thinking about trans women attending a women’s college on emotional responses to trans women. Moderation analyses revealed that gender identification was not a significant moderator of any of these relationships, whereas gender ideology was only moderated by the effect of condition on fear. Namely, compared to cisgender women who strongly endorsed a liberal feminist gender ideology, cisgender women who weakly endorsed a liberal feminist gender ideology felt significantly more fearful of trans women after reading about trans women being able to attend a fictitious women’s college. We discuss these findings in relation to the debate over the inclusion of trans women in traditionally women-only spaces.


Senior thesis completed at Trinity College, Hartford Connecticut for the degree of Bachelor of Arts in Psychology.

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Psychology Commons