Many individuals experience a sense of pervasive ambiguity as the increasing acceptance of transgender identity challenges gender categories. These individuals use the media ecosystem to reconstruct their understanding of gender. Given the wide accessibility of misinformation about transgender youth in this ecosystem, individuals may adopt beliefs that tell them the emergence of transgender youth is a problem they must oppose. With this award, Billard aims to understand whether exposure to such misinformation gives rise to state-level anti-transgender policies targeting youth. To do so, Billard will test an intervention to mitigate the effect of misinformation on attitudes toward transgender youth. Billard will develop new methodological skills in computational social science that enable them to translate research findings into more effective policy work. Billard will be supported by mentors Pablo Barberá, Associate Professor in the Department of Political Science and International Relations at the University of Southern California, and a Research Scientist at Meta; and Joan Donovan, Research Director of the Shorenstein Center of Media, Politics, and Public Policy at Harvard University.
Does exposure to misinformation give rise to state-level anti-transgender policies targeting youth? Can an intervention mitigate the effect of misinformation on attitudes toward transgender youth?