How a 10-minute conversation can significantly reduce transphobia

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Transgender Rights Battle Heats-Up

On Friday, legendary rocker Bruce Springsteen announced that he had canceled a concert in North Carolina in protest of that state's controversial new law curbing the rights of the transgender community. But although The Boss and other advocates for trans rights are boycotting, staging demonstrations, or filing lawsuits, a new study suggests an alternative tactic: a 10-minute-long conversation.

Indeed, a new study, published in the journal Science on Thursday, found that a 10-minute discussion between a door-to-door canvasser and a voter holding transphobic beliefs could significantly reduce the voter's prejudice against the transgender community. The effect of that single, brief conversation on the voter's opinion lasted up to three months, according to the study.

RELATED: From Courtrooms to Bathrooms, Trans People Made Major Progress in 2015

Two political scientists, David Broockman, an assistant professor at the Stanford Graduate School of Business, and Joshua Kalla, a doctoral student at the University of California, Berkeley, enlisted 56 experienced canvassers—some transgender, some not—to engage in thoughtful conversations with 501 voters in southern Florida. Voters were shown video ads that provided arguments for and against transgender rights and were asked to describe instances when they felt discriminated against.

The same canvassers who conducted the initial conversations revisited Florida voters after several weeks—or months, in some cases—and found that their conversations reflected a sustained decrease in bias against transgender individuals. The decrease in transphobia was found to be greater than that of homophobia in America between 1998 and 2012, according to the study. The voters also expressed increased support for antidiscriminatory laws that would protect transgender individuals.

"In some ways, we're seeing the same patterns that we saw with gay marriage, where 40 years ago in Miami — where this study took place—Anita Bryant had this infamous 'Save Our Children' campaign that played on the same ideas about gay people that we're seeing about transgender people now: 'You can't trust them around children. They are all sex offenders. They're unstable,' " Broockman told Stanford Insights.

The canvassers used a persuasion technique devised by the Los Angeles Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Center. The technique encourages people to consider the perspective of someone in a given situation by relating it to an instance where they felt similarly.

RELATED: Transgender Visibility Is at an All-Time High—and So Are Transgender Homicides

"Most attempts by campaigns to influence voters don't have an impact at all, and the ones that do, the benefit decays in three to five days," David Fleischer, director of the Leadership LAB at the Los Angeles LGBT Center, told The Washington Post.

The method was first employed in a Science study from last year. Michael LaCour of the University of California, Los Angeles, conducted research similar to Broockman and Kalla's, looking at how effective canvassing was when discussing marriage equality. LaCour claimed to have found that support for marriage equality increased after conversations with canvassers, especially when the canvasser was gay, but inconsistencies in the findings resulted in the study being retracted.

"We found that the canvasser's identity doesn't really seem to matter; both transgender and non-transgender canvassers were effective," Broockman told Insights. "What seems to matter most is that canvassers are experienced."

Despite the inaccurate results in LaCour's study, Broockman and Kalla were ultimately able to prove that the Los Angeles LGBT Center's canvassing technique was effective.

"What we found suggests that campaigns might have more success than they expect trying to talk with people that have initially opposing views, even regarding controversial topics and across partisan lines," Broockman told Insights.

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How a 10-minute conversation can significantly reduce transphobia
Laverne Cox poses in the press room at the BET Awards at the Microsoft Theater on Sunday, June 28, 2015, in Los Angeles. (Photo by Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP)
Chaz Bono arrives at the 25th Annual GLAAD Media Awards on Saturday, April 12, 2014. (Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP)
Tennis player Dr. Renee Richards, shown in action at stadium in Forest Hills, New York during U.S. Open tennis match on Sept. 1, 1977. (AP Photo/Dave Pickoff)
In this June 1, 2015 photo, a journalist looks at Vanity Fair's Twitter site with the Tweet about Caitlyn Jenner, who will be featured on the July cover of the magazine. Caitlyn Jenner, the transgender Olympic champion formerly known as Bruce, on Monday unveiled her new name and look in a sexy Vanity Fair cover shoot -- drawing widespread praise, including from the White House. Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender campaigners -- and many well-wishers -- welcomed the high-profile debut, as did the 65-year-old Jenner's family, which includes the media-savvy celebrity Kardashian clan. 'I'm so happy after such a long struggle to be living my true self,' Jenner wrote in her first tweet after the magazine released the July cover photo by renowned photographer Annie Leibovitz. AFP PHOTO / MLADEN ANTONOV (Photo credit should read MLADEN ANTONOV/AFP/Getty Images)
Writer Janet Mock attends Marie Claire's Second-Annual New Guard Lunch at Hearst Tower on October 30, 2014 in New York City. (Photo by Robin Marchant/Getty Images for Marie Claire)
FILE - In this Aug. 18, 2009 file photo, transgender activist and prominent AIDS leader Diego Sanchez talks about his work as a legislative assistant to Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass., on Capitol Hill in Washington. Sanchez became the first transgender person named to the Democratic Party’s national platform committee. President Barack Obama, who established his bona fides as a gay and lesbian rights champion when he endorsed same-sex marriage, has steadily extended his administration’s advocacy to the community that comprises the smallest and least accepted band of the LGBT rainbow: transgender Americans. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)
Carmen Carrera attends the OUT100 2014 Awards at Stage 48 on Thursday, Nov. 20, 2014, in New York. (Photo by Andy Kropa/Invision/AP)
US transgender star Amanda Lepore arrives for the largest annual AIDS charity gala in Europe known as the Life Ball, at the Vienna International Airport near Schwechat, Austria, Friday, May 15, 2015. (AP Photo/Ronald Zak)
Kye Allums attends the premiere screening of the MTV and Logo TV documentary "Laverne Cox Presents: The T Word" at the Paramount Screening Room on Thursday, Oct. 16, 2014, in New York. (Photo by Scott Roth/Invision/AP)
U.S. Thomas Beatie, his wife Nancy and daughter Susan Juliette report in the RTL end-of-the-year review show "2008! People, Pictures, Emotions" in a TV studio in Huerth, western Germany, on Sunday evening, Dec. 7, 2008. The 34 years old Thomas Beatie was born as a women. After his sex change he was the first "pregnant man" in the world and he has born their daughter. Now he is in the second time in a pregnant situation , so he told in the show. (AP Photo/Hermann J. Knippertz)
Transgender former US Navy Seal Senior Chief Kristin Beck speaks during a conference entitled 'Perspectives on Transgender Military Service from Around the Globe' organized by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and the Palm Center in Washington on October 20, 2014. Transgender military personnel from 18 countries who allow them to serve openly, gathered to talk about their experiences and discuss whether the US military could join them. It is estimated that more than 15, 000 transgender personnel currently serve in the US military, but policy requires their separation if they are discovered, according to the ACLU. AFP PHOTO/Nicholas KAMM (Photo credit should read NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images)
Dana Beyer poses for a portrait at her home in Chevy Chase, Md. on Monday, June 9, 2008. Beyer is a transgender activist in Maryland's Montgomery County, where the county council voted 8-0 last year to extend civil rights protections on the basis of gender identity. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)
Transgendered novelist and Colby College english professor Jennifer Finney Boylan, poses Monday, march 3, 2008 at her home in Belgrade Lakes, Maine. Boylan, 49, has become an activist for the nation's transgendered and one of the most widely recognized transsexuals of recent years. (AP Photo/Joel Page)
WEST HOLLYWOOD, CA - MAY 07: Model Gigi Gorgeous attends the NYLON Young Hollywood Party presented by BCBGeneration at HYDE Sunset: Kitchen + Cocktails on May 7, 2015 in West Hollywood, California. (Photo by Jason Kempin/Getty Images for NYLON)
Candis Cayne arrives to the 6th Annual Hollywood Style Awards on Sunday Oct. 11, 2009, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Katy Winn)
NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 13: Mixed martial artist Fallon Fox attends the 2013 Emery Awards at Cipriani Wall Street on November 13, 2013 in New York City. (Photo by Cindy Ord/Getty Images)
Isis King attends the premiere screening of the MTV and Logo TV documentary "Laverne Cox Presents: The T Word" at the Paramount Screening Room on Thursday, Oct. 16, 2014, in New York. (Photo by Scott Roth/Invision/AP)
Lana Lawless is photographed with a golf club, Wednesday, Oct. 13, 2010, in San Francisco. Lawless, a former police officer who underwent a sex change operation five years ago, is challenging the LPGA's ban on transgender players. She filed a federal lawsuit late Tuesday in San Francisco federal court claiming the LPGA's "female at birth" requirement for competitors violates a California civil rights law. Lawless is seeking to prevent the LPGA from holding tournaments in the state until the organization changes its policy to admit transgender players. She is also seeking unspecified damages. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)
Model Lea T presents a creation by Teca by Helo Rocha during the 2016 Summer collections of the Sao Paulo Fashion Week in Sao Paulo, Brazil, on April 16, 2015. AFP PHOTO / MIGUEL SCHINCARIOL (Photo credit should read Miguel Schincariol/AFP/Getty Images)
Jenna Talackova (R) arrives for a press conference in Los Angeles with her attorner Gloria Allred (out of frame) on April 3, 2012. Canada's Miss Universe pageant said it would allow the transgendered model to compete in its pageant as long as Canada recognizes her gender as a woman. Talackova was previously disqualified, she said, because she used to be male. AFP PHOTO/Frederic J. BROWN (Photo credit should read FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP/Getty Images)
Director, writer and producer Lana Wachowski poses on arrival for the Los Angeles Premiere of the film 'Jupiter Ascending' in Hollywood, California on February 2, 2015. The film opens on February 6. AFP PHOTO / FREDERIC J. BROWN (Photo credit should read FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP/Getty Images)
BEVERLY HILLS, CA - FEBRUARY 28: Caitlyn Jenner attends the 2016 Vanity Fair Oscar Party Hosted By Graydon Carter at Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts on February 28, 2016 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Karwai Tang/WireImage)

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