Bullying is characterized by the repeated attempts of a group or individual to gain social advantage by the use of relational, verbal, or physical aggression against a target, especially when there is a perceived or actual power imbalance (Espelage & Swearer, 2003).
One consistent finding is that gay (i.e., androphilic) males report higher rates of victimization due to bullying in adolescence than their heterosexual (i.e., gynephilic) counterparts. Western data indicate that gender-atypical behavior, regardless of sexual orientation, is a key predictor of victimization due to bullying. Androphilic males generally display childhood gender-atypicality, including reduced levels of physical aggression, which may cause bullies to perceive them as "easy" targets.
In order to test the associations between sexual orientation, childhood gender-atypicality, and recalled victimization due to bullying, a sample of Samoan gynephilic men (n = 100) were compared to a group of Samoan transgender androphilic males (n = 103), known as fa'afafine. Although the fa'afafine reported far more childhood gender-atypicality, the two groups did not differ significantly on measures of physical aggression or their reported rates of victimization due to bullying.
Additionally, greater physical aggression, not gender-atypicality, was the only significant predictor of being bullied in both men and fa'afafine. These results suggest that there is nothing inherent in sexual orientation or childhood gender-atypicality that would potentiate victimization from bullying. Instead, the cultural context in which a bully functions influences the extent to which these are "acceptable" reasons to target certain individuals.
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- 1Department of Psychology, University of Lethbridge, C866 University Hall, 4401 University Drive, Lethbridge, AB, T1K 3M4, Canada. firstname.lastname@example.org.
- 2Department of Psychology, University of Lethbridge, C866 University Hall, 4401 University Drive, Lethbridge, AB, T1K 3M4, Canada.
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