Mills Professor Publishes Pioneering Research on Transgender Prejudice

Oakland, CA—February 06, 2017

Seeing facial photos of transgender people reduced transphobia and discomfort among participants in the first national experiment of its kind, according to research published by Mills Assistant Professor of Government Andrew R. Flores.

The research published in the journal Political Psychology and featured in New York Magazine found these effects to be stronger for Democrats than Republicans, but seeing the images had little effect in general on attitudes about transgender rights.

Seeing the faces of transgender people and clarifying what transgender means “is humanizing, and that has a broader effect on comfort levels for transgender people and transphobia,” Flores said. “But that did not translate to transgender rights attitudes. So, there’s a limit.”

Transgender was broadly defined for experiment participants as people who are transitioning from their birth sex to the sex of their gender identity—by using hormones or surgeries or both—and those who cross dress or simply reject the idea of gender as man or woman.

“This kind of pioneering research, which seeks to better understand and improve human relations, is central to our goal of providing learning experiences grounded in social justice” said Mills College President Elizabeth L. Hillman.

Flores and five other academic collaborators conducted the research in 2015 on 2,102 subjects from a diverse range of political viewpoints and geographic and demographic backgrounds. Flores is lead author on the article in Political Psychology titled “Challenged Expectations: Mere Exposure Effects on Attitudes about Transgender People and Rights.”

About Mills College
Located in Oakland, California, in the heart of the San Francisco Bay Area, Mills College is a nationally renowned independent liberal arts college for women with graduate programs for women and men. Ranked one of the top-tier regional universities in the West by U.S. News & World Report, Mills is also recognized as one of The Best 381 Colleges in the nation by The Princeton Review. Since 1852, we’ve been empowering students to become creative, independent thinkers who take and inspire action. For more information, visit