The purpose of this study is to compare perceptions of male cisgender and male transgender stalking perpetrators. There present study compared participants’ perceptions of whether behaviour constituted stalking, posed a threat, had a risk of violence and required police intervention when the perpetrator was transgender or cisgender. The present study also sought to replicate the prior-relationship misconception in stalking literature and to investigate whether perceptions of transgender perpetrators changed based on the age and gender of the perceiver.
Participants read vignettes outlining the relationship between victim and perpetrator as well as a description of the stalking behaviours. Participants then reported their perceptions of the four dependent variables on Likert-type scales.
The prior-relationship misconception was replicated. There were no significant differences in perceptions of transgender and cisgender perpetrators across the four dependent variables. There were also no significant differences in perceptions based on the gender of the perceiver. Contrary to expectations, older participants perceived transgender perpetrators as less threatening than younger participants.
The prior-relationship misconception is robust to gender identity of the perpetrator. The participants in the present study seemed to make judgements based on stalking behaviour and not the gender identity of the perpetrator. Future research should replicate this study with more severe stalking behaviours and with greater variation in gender identity.
To the best of the authors’ knowledge, this study is the first to compare perceptions of cisgender and transgender males in the context of stalking perpetration. There is also consideration of how the demographics of the perceiver could impact these perceptions. This study also contributes to research on the prior-relationship misconception by demonstrating that the misconception is robust to gender identification of the perpetrator.
Public significance statement: The present study explores how public misconceptions about stalking can impact perceptions of threat with regards to prior relationship between victim and perpetrator and the gender identification of the perpetrator. These misconceptions can be addressed through accurate media portrayals of stalking, through police response to victims and through referrals to appropriate victim-support services.
Data availability statement: Ethical approval for this research was provided by Nottingham University Ethics Committee (reference number – 476–2001).
Cook, L.C. and Duff, S.C. (2022), "A comparison of public perceptions of cisgender male and transgender male stalking perpetrators", Journal of Criminal Psychology, Vol. ahead-of-print No. ahead-of-print. https://doi.org/10.1108/JCP-09-2021-0037
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