Congratulations to our 2022 David Kirp ’65 Stonewall Prize Winners: Kayla McKeon '22 and Lisa Zheutlin '22
Kayla McKeon '22
A Problematic Provocation: The role of gender identity on assessments of guilt and criminal culpability in a mock jury decision-making paradigm
Department of Psychology Honors Thesis
Abstract: The transgender panic defense is a provocation defense utilized most often by heterosexual, cisgender male defendants who murder a transgender sexual interest, citing the discovery of the victim’s transgender identity as the provocation that prompted them to lose self-control and commit a violent act (Lee, 2014). This legal excuse for anti-transgender violence is particularly alarming due to the disproportionate rate of violence experienced by transgender women, especially transgender women of color. Currently, no empirical studies have explored factors that influence jurors’ acceptance of transgender panic defenses. However, the closely related gay panic defense has been evaluated in several studies using a mock jury paradigm. This prior research on the gay panic defense has identified homophobia, political orientation, blame attribution, moral outrage, and hate crime perception as factors contributing to successful gay panic defenses. Since empirical research has not yet explored the transgender panic defense, the current study fills a gap in the literature by applying previous methodology from gay panic defense research to an examination of the motivations of jurors’ acceptance of the transgender panic defense. The current study examines the influence of transphobia, political orientation, blame attribution, moral outrage, and hate crime perception on jurors’ acceptance of transgender panic defenses as mitigating circumstance in a murder case. This study recruited participants through Prolific for a 3 (gender identity) by 2 (provocation) between-subjects (N = 739) mock-jury study. Juror instructions and six vignettes from Salerno et al.’s (2015) study on the gay panic defense were adapted to fit the transgender panic defense. Participants responded to a series of items and scales related to political orientation, verdict recommendations, verdict confidence ratings, transphobia, perceptions of victim blame, and general perceptions of the victim and the defendant. Findings demonstrate that participants blamed transgender female victims significantly less than gay men (p = .032) and transgender men (p = .001). According our findings, participants had overall more negative perceptions of transgender male victims than they did of transgender female victims (p < .001). Similarly, participants experienced significantly more anger (p < .001) and disgust (p = .026) toward transgender male victims than they did toward transgender female victims. There were no significant differences in participants’ levels of victim blame, anger, and disgust for transgender men and gay men. These results indicate that further research on the differences in prejudice against transgender women and transgender men must be conducted in order to understand what motivates bias against transgender men specifically.
The Anti-Monogamy Framework: Reimagining Relationality
Department of Sexuality, Women's and Gender studies Honors Thesis
Abstract: The anti-monogamy framework is a queer feminist undertaking that elucidates the political grasp of monogamy and questions why dominant culture and society prioritizes romantic, coupled, sexual love above all else, why other nourishing forms of love are not similarly valorized, both interpersonally and structurally. The first chapter, The Romance Myth, traces the harmful social and cultural privileging of romance, driven by a desire to understand the funneling toward compulsory monogamy, both personally and theoretically. A key component of this chapter questions and queers the line between platonic and romantic love, with asexuality exposing their categorizational ambiguity, and shows the harmful consequences of prioritizing the latter over the former. Chapter 2, the Weaponization of Monogamy, traces monogamy’s normalization/naturalization in its shift from a doctrine of Christianity and nationalism to a discourse of science. This chapter unearths monogamy’s racist, colonial roots, detailing how the United States and Canada weaponized monogamy as a tool of settler colonialism in 19th century nation-building, using an “Othering matrix” to define and distance oneself and one’s people against a racialized, sexualized, pathologized “Other,” with a specific focus on monogamy’s brutal imposition onto Indigenous sexuality and kinship networks. Filtering these historical and political processes through the anti-monogamy framework unearths the long-lasting impact these enforcements have on our sense of belonging, both with one another and in the nation. The final chapter, Queer Alternatives, is committed to world building, to evaluating and crafting practical queer alternatives to counter monogamy’s hegemony, imaginaries which internalize the lessons from the first two chapters and critically do not reify the privileging of romance and sex. This chapter both acknowledges the racialized legacies of the “Othering” matrix on perception of non-monogamies and illuminates the ways in which non-monogamy can also lead to naturalizing and normative discourses, obscuring more expansive intimacies. In casting the anti-monogamy framework onto the legal and economic realms, this section demonstrates the applicability of the framework to broader social justice and anti-capitalist movements. In decentering settler sexuality, sex, and romance, how can we rescue and reimagine our relationalities and realities?