Promoting positive attitudes towards Nonbinary folx using a cooperative board game

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About This Project

More than 77% of Trans and gender non-conforming respondents of the National Transgender Discrimination Survey reported mistreatment due to their identity in K-12 settings. Studies show that positive cooperative interactions are effective for enhancing attitudes toward marginalized groups. Our study promotes this type of interaction between cis and nonbinary folx through an online board game, which we expect to lead to lower intergroup anxiety and more positive attitudes.

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What is the context of this research?

We were inspired to focus on this area of research because of the social inequity that nonbinary individuals face on a daily basis and the life consequences for these folx. As mentioned in the abstract, 77% of those who identify as transgender or nonbinary were harassed as a result of their gender identity and/or expression in K-12 schools. Further, this mistreatment was severe enough for 17% of these students to drop out of school. Those who reported mistreatment, including 35% who experienced physical assault, related to their gender identity and/or expression were also more likely to have lower incomes, become incarcerated, and/or abuse drugs and alcohol later in life.

What is the significance of this project?

Discrimination results in unfavorable educational and career outcomes for trans students. While some school systems are beginning to create more inclusive learning environments (e.g. Meyer & Leonardi, 2018), we need more research on effective practices to support all trans students in all environments. Specifically, nonbinary trans individuals' experiences are not thoroughly addressed or supported, despite making up about 35% of the trans community. Research with this community will better inform research-based interventions that successfully reduce discrimination and prejudice from teachers, staff, and students alike. In turn, this will support trans individuals’ success both inside and outside of the classroom.

What are the goals of the project?

The project will evaluate how intergroup contact between nonbinary and cisgender folx relates to anti-trans prejudice and attitudes. This will be accomplished through the use of an online board game, through which participants can only win by effectively cooperating. We aim to recruit 200 participants who will be randomly assigned to play with research assistants who identify as nonbinary or cisgender. After gameplay, participants will complete a survey about their attitudes towards trans and nonbinary people. This will allow us to compare participant attitudes between conditions. Results could help determine effective ways to foster acceptance towards trans folx, ultimately helping to increase their well-being.


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Having nonbinary individuals act as research confederates requires opening themselves up to additional stress while interacting with cisgender individuals for this study. This is not only taxing but also potentially psychologically damaging, as the attitudes of the participants towards trans individuals is unknown. A stipend will hopefully somewhat compensate these folx for their time and the emotional labor.

Target Sample for 2nd round of data collection: 120 participants, randomly assigned to 1 of 2 conditions
Experimental condition: 60 participants, run in dyads
Experimental hours: 30 hour-long sessions, 2 research assistants at each session
Additional time for interviews about experiences: 3 hours per research assistant

Additionally, the present times have made it more difficult to rely completely on students signing up for extra credit. We estimate that we will need $5 incentives for about half of the 120 total participants through extra credit.

Endorsed by

Yu-Chi is currently a PhD candidate in our Educational Psychology department at the University of Minnesota. Yu-Chi has spent over a year designing this crucial study, which will help assess whether intergroup contact between nonbinary and cisgender folx during online, cooperative gameplay can increase acceptance toward trans folx. This research is urgently needed at a time when students identifying as trans or nonbinary face discrimination, assault, and many other inequities. Yu-Chi is extremely well qualified to conduct this important study.

Flag iconProject Timeline

Planning for this project started in Fall 2019, and I began to work full time on this project starting in August 2020. As a team, we started of data collection Fall 2020 but have had a lower turnout than expected due to current events. We plan to start a second round of data collection in late January 2021 and hope to conclude by March 2021. This should allow for completion of data analyses and write-up by August 2021.

Oct 14, 2020

Completed Research Assistant Recruitment - First Round of Data Collection

Oct 23, 2020

Completed Research Assistant Trainings

Oct 26, 2020

Began recruitment and participant scheduling

Dec 16, 2020

Completed First round of Data Collection

Dec 22, 2020

Project Launched

Meet the Team

Yu-Chi Wang
Yu-Chi Wang
PhD Candidate, Lead researcher


University of Minnesota
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Anna Olson
Anna Olson
Undergraduate Research Assistant


University of Minnesota
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Cody Felton
Cody Felton
Undergraduate Research Assistant


University of Minnesota
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Team Bio

Our full team consists of 7 undergraduate research assistants in Minnesota and Canada. They have, thus far, been volunteering their time and efforts, and they are all strongly dedicated to supporting the LGBTQ+ community through research and service. Some are planning to go into counselling and others are planning to do public health research.

Yu-Chi Wang

Yu-Chi (no pronouns) is a PhD Candidate in Educational Psychology, working full time on Yu-Chi's dissertation study. Yu-Chi is an agender, asexual, Asian-American and is dedicated to advocacy for the trans community and other marginalized groups through Yu-Chi's research and community service. Yu-Chi conducted psychological research with Dr. Kent Norman on digital games in undergrad and has been studying board/tabletop games in grad school as well as student retention through service learning with Dr. Geoffrey Maruyama.

Anna Olson

Anna (she/her) is an undergrad student studying psychology at the University of Minnesota and participating as a research assistant in Yu-Chi's dissertation.

Cody Felton

Cody (they/he) is an undergrad student studying psychology at the University of Minnesota and participating as a research assistant in Yu-Chi's dissertation.

Additional Information

Cover photo used with permission from The Gender Spectrum Project.

Project Backers

  • 13Backers
  • 41%Funded
  • $540Total Donations
  • $41.54Average Donation
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