Communication scholar at USC Annenberg


No, Not Like That! Or, How (Not) to Measure Transphobia

In case you were unaware, transphobia is a problem. So, logically, researchers have tried to study the antecedents and consequences of transphobia, and to do so have created a number of psychometric scales with which to quantify such prejudice. The problem is, most of these psychometric scales are deeply flawed. In fact, Melanie Morrison and her colleagues recently published a review of these transphobia measures, finding that even the most thoroughly validated measures failed to meet every criteria for psychometric validity. And it's a problem I've come up against in my own work trying to measure media effects on attitudes toward transgender people—without sound measures, it's hard to perform a rigorous study.

While Morrison et al. provided a thorough review of psychometric issues in existing measures of transphobia, I wasn't quite content with their critique of the scales' content validity issues. From my perspective, above and beyond all other issues these scales may have, the root problem is that none of them is based on a solid conceptual foundation, which results in them consisting of scale items that fail to reflect the construct they're ultimately aiming to measure. So, using Morrison and colleagues' review as a launching point, I've just published a Letter to the Editor entitled "The Crisis in Content Validity Among Existing Measures of Transphobia" in Archives of Sexual Behavior, which is slated for the July 2018 issue (Volume 47, Issue 5). You can check it out here, on my CV page, or in the "Selected Publications" section of my Research page.

Also, watch this space for my own attempt to rectify (in part) the lack of conceptually-sound transphobia measures, the Attitudes Toward Transgender Men and Women (ATTMW) scale, forthcoming in Frontiers in Psychology.

Thomas J BillardComment