In early 2015, a team of 56 volunteers knocked on the doors of conservative voters in Miami, Florida to talk about transgender rights. Local officials had recently passed a law that protected transgender people from discrimination, but LGBT organizations were concerned about backlash, repeals, and counter-legislation (of the kind recently seen in North Carolina).
So volunteers from the Los Angeles LGBT Center and SAVE, a Florida LGBT organization asked voters what they thought about the recent law? Would they watch this video and talk about their reactions? Could they talk about a time when they had been on the receiving end of negative judgment or stigma? Did that help them to understand what a transgender life is like? Did that change their views?
It was a deliberate strategy, and it worked—durably and dramatically. These ten-minute conversations, known as “deep canvassing,” substantially reduced prejudice against transgender people for at least three months, even in the face of anti-transgender ad campaigns. Not all the voters were swayed, but on average, they experienced a drop in transphobia greater than the fall in homophobia among average Americans from 1998 to 2012. The canvassers, through ten-minute chats, had produced the equivalent of 14 years of social change.