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Study finds Caitlyn Jenner coming out made older people less transphobic

The research found Jenner’s announcement didn’t carry the same impact among young conservatives, however.

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Caitlyn Jenner came out as trans in 2015.
Photo by Michael Kovac/Getty Images for EJAF

Caitlyn Jenner coming out as trans had a sizable impact on how older people view the transgender population, according to a new study.

The study, which was published recently in American Politics Research, found conservative older people were more likely to support transgender rights after the retired Olympic gold medal-winning decathlete had revealed she was transgender in 2015. Interestingly enough, Jenner’s announcement didn’t carry the same impact on younger people who were also transphobic. One of the possible reasons for the discrepancy is Baby Boomers remember Jenner’s sterling athletic career, whereas younger generations are more likely to know her as a character on the reality television show, “Keeping Up with the Kardashians.”

“She didn’t appear to have any effect on the younger people who might have been more attuned to Keeping Up with the Kardashians,” one of the study’s authors, Patrick Miller, told the University of Kansas.

Jenner made political headlines in 2016 when she endorsed Donald Trump for president, though she revoked her support two years later, citing the Administration’s hostile policies towards LGBTQ people. Since the study was conducted prior to Jenner’s endorsement, Miller says we don’t know how Jenner’s political persuasions have affected her public standing.

“If those who she affected were older people who seemed more socially conservative, maybe she endeared herself with everything she said regarding Trump after our survey,” he said. “And given the negative reaction to her 2016 comments, it’s entirely possible she’s developed a negative audience.”

While Jenner remains a polarizing figure, the study’s results are another reminder of the importance of representation. Folks are more apt to become accepting of different people when they are exposed to them, even if they are steadfast in their beliefs.