Date of Award

Spring 2019

Degree Type

Capstone - Open Access

Degree Name

Master of Education (MEd)

First Advisor

Melissa Nemon

Abstract

As a way to increase legitimate education around a historically marginalized population, research was conducted around the fear of the unknown and how this fear contributes to opinion formation and informs prejudice, particularly toward the Transgender community. This research was used to inform the planning and facilitation of a panel discussion aimed at humanizing the Transgender community and encouraging critical opinion formation. A workshop and panel event was held and analysis of responses from post event surveys, interactive posters, and participant submitted questions was completed. Applying exposure theory, those who attended the panel had an overall increase in positive feelings about the topic and almost all participants agreed with the statement, “I have thought more critically about how I might interact with Transgendered individuals.” It is clear that fear, specifically of the unknown, plays a large role in fueling transphobia. Due to a natural preference for what is familiar and centuries of social conditioning, those who identify as Transgender and do not fit into the societally accepted gender binary, are met with discomfort and fear, which, unexamined, can morph into transphobia. Because it is an emotion, fear cannot be controlled, however, it can and should be challenged, examined, and question.

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