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Christine Smith


Growing acceptance of transgender identities in the absence of parallel shifts regarding race can be perceived as somewhat paradoxical, especially in light of how differently each construct is imagined to be rooted in biology. Perceptions of race and gender as alterable aspects of identity were explored using four identity transition scenarios. Participants’ beliefs about identity transitions were dependent upon both the type of transition and political ideology. Results indicate that identity transitions involving gender (both male to female and female to male) and one race transition (white to black) were perceived similarly whereas the black to white transition was perceived as relatively less plausible. Coded rationales suggest that gender identity is more frequently perceived as driven by choice relative to racial identity. Participants’ political ideology was associated with their acceptance of identity transitions.

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