Nurses Show Bias To Transgender Individuals, Study Shows 

In Education

New UK research suggests that healthcare professionals display biases toward transgender individuals, often avoiding personal relationships with them. Nurses, in particular, tend to confuse sex with gender identity.

Nurses hold biases against transgender individuals

According to the study nurses were more inclined to hold negative beliefs about gender identity, like believing that a person can’t change their gender or that something is wrong with those who don’t identify as strictly male or female, when compared to the general population and other healthcare professionals.

The study involving doctors, nurses, and the general public used a Harvard University test that presented images of famous transgender and cisgender individuals, like Meryl Streep and Naomi Campbell for cisgender women, and Caitlyn Jenner and Laverne Cox for transgender women.

Researchers from the University of Exeter and Coventry University, along with Harvard University, conducted a study analyzing the implicit and explicit reactions of tens of thousands of healthcare professionals and members of the public. The study aimed to probe their implicit biases, which are beliefs people might be hesitant to openly express. The findings revealed that, on average, nursing professionals exhibited “slight” biases, while the general population displayed minimal or no prejudice.

Sex and gender identity confusion behind the nurse’s bias

The research found that healthcare professionals have varying levels of bias towards transgender individuals. It noted that nurses, in particular, exhibited higher levels of implicit bias, which might be linked to a tendency to confuse sex and gender identity, as they tended to agree more with transphobic statements that conflated these two distinct concepts.

Healthcare professionals, including nurses and non-nurses, primarily interact with transgender individuals in a work setting. To assess their subconscious biases, the Implicit Association Test was used, where participants associated positive or negative terms with people to measure their implicit biases, resulting in a “D-Score.”

It is important to note that individuals with strong negative attitudes towards transgender people may choose not to participate in the Transgender IAT, potentially leading to an underestimation of implicit bias against transgender individuals in the presented results.

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