What Lies Beneath: How Paranoid Cognition Explains the Relations Between Transgender Employees' Perceptions of Discrimination at Work and their Job Attitudes and Wellbeing
Journal of Vocational Behavior
With the recent public gender transitions of celebrities like Caitlin Jenner, greater visibility of transgender characters on television (e.g., Transparent), and controversial laws enacted in some U.S. states and cities banning transgender employees from accessing bathrooms that align with their gender identities, issues of gender expression have been thrust into the national spotlight. In order to promote greater awareness and acceptance of transgender people, greater knowledge of their life experiences is needed. Adding to a small, but growing, body of research on the work experiences of transgender individuals, the goal of the present study is to examine the cognitive processes that shape these individuals' experiences in the workplace. Drawing on existing theory and research on paranoia, we examine the role of paranoid cognition, defined by hypervigilance, rumination, and sinister attributional tendencies, in explaining the relations between transgender employees' perceptions of workplace discrimination and their job attitudes and psychological wellbeing. Our findings suggest that perceptions of transgender discrimination in the workplace are positively related to paranoid cognition at work; paranoid cognition is positively related to transgender employees' turnover intentions and emotional exhaustion and negatively related to their job satisfaction; and paranoid cognition at work mediates the relations between perceptions of discrimination and each of these outcomes. We conclude by discussing the implications of our results, as well as avenues for future research on the work experiences of transgender employees.