University of Connecticut

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Kylar Schaad Thesis Defense

Friday, October 23, 2020
11:00am – 12:30pm


Telling the Story Right: Explaining Support for Transgender and Non-Binary Rights

Kylar Schaad Department of Sociology University of Connecticut

M.A. Thesis Defense Friday, October 23rd, 2020 11:00 am – 12:30 pm WebEX link (details below)

Committee Members: Dr. Christin Munsch, Chair Dr. Nancy Naples Dr. Mary Bernstein

Abstract Over the summer of 2020, there has been a dramatic increase in attention to rights related to gender identity. For example, on June 15th, 2020, the U.S. Supreme Court issued its first ruling on transgender rights forbidding job discrimination on the basis of gender identity or expression, just one week after the Trump Administration’s reversal of a policy prohibiting discrimination against transgender people in health care. Beyond the realm of political discourse, transgender and non-binary identities have begun to emerge in popular media. Both realms have immense influence on public opinion towards transgender and non-binary individuals, as well as shaping common understandings of these identities. In light of these developing cultural frames around what it means to be a transgender or non-binary person, my line of research explores how emerging gender scripts influence perceptions of legitimacy and public advocacy. In this thesis, I conduct a vignette-based experiment to explore how three factors influence perceived legitimacy and subsequently willingness to politically advocate for transgender and non-binary persons: (1) gender assigned at birth (2) current gender identity and (3) adherence to or subversion of normative gender scripts (Simon and Gagnon 1986). Gender scripts, in this line of research, refers to stereotypical descriptions of a transgender childhood (e.g., “I knew ever since I can remember that I was actually a boy, not a girl”). Respondents were randomly assigned one of eight vignettes wherein these three variables were manipulated in order to examine their influence on perceptions of identity legitimacy and willingness to advocate. Given the significance of public opinion in social movement participation and policymaking, I examine the extent to which Americans support laws that allow for transgender and non-binary people to change the gender marker on their birth certificate and theorize that perceptions of gender legitimacy and the use of normative gender scripts underlie variation in support.


Dr. Christin Munsch ( for WebEx

Sociology Department (primary), College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, UConn Master Calendar

Control Panel