Honors College Theses

Publication Date



Political Science (B.A.)

Document Type and Release Option

Thesis (open access)

Faculty Mentor

Dr. Kate Perry


While recent strides have been made regarding more transgender and gender non-conforming individuals (TGNC) running for and being elected to political office in the United States, only 64 individuals who identify as part of the community are currently serving elected office (LGBTQ Victory Institute 2021). Though cisgender women have also faced political underrepresentation, higher rates of cisgender women have campaigned for and won elected office at all levels of government in recent years. Previous research illustrates the differences between the political and societal situations of these groups, including drawing attention to the elements of visibility and viability the Role Model Effect and its impact on political engagement among cisgender women. However, past research has not examined whether the recent rise in cisgender women candidates has impacted the political interest of other marginalized groups. In my study, I address this gap and argue that active inclusion of issues relevant to the TGNC community is needed in order for the candidacies of cisgender women to have an impact on TGNC individuals’ interest in running for political office. I designed an original experiment to test this theory, and initial results show support for this hypothesis, adding to research addressing the role of identity in politics.