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Myers-Briggs & TG's

Personality Types and the Transgender Community
By Dana Bourne, INFP
Copyright 2005

Ever since taking the Myers-Briggs Testing Instrument at work some time ago, I’ve wondered whether my status as a TG person had any effect on the results.  I’ve also wondered whether different classes of transgendered people would come up with results markedly different from each other.

This article is the result of a tiny bit of informal research.  I asked the members of some Yahoo!Groups to which I belong to take an online quiz based on the MBTI and send me their results, comments, and how they identify themselves (CD, TS or some other way).  I received 37 responses—nowhere near what a true research study would require, but certainly an interesting place to start.

My objective? Besides just assuaging my own curiosity, I’d like to try and find a true professional researcher, and perhaps a willing funder, to do this kind of study for real.  The benefits to our community, both in understanding ourselves and in society’s understanding of us, could be very important.  In particular, the MBTI can help you develop your complementary side, a skill that transgendered people both experience and need, perhaps more than any other group.

WHAT IS THE MBTI?

The Myers-Briggs Testing Instrument (MBTI) is a personality test used thousands of times by counselors, coaches, psychologists and management consultants to help individuals and organizations understand themselves better.  The MBTI places the person into one of 16 “Types,” based on the different combinations of 4 pairs of letters.  My own type is “INFP.”

ISTJ

ISFJ

INFJ

INTJ

ISTP

ISFP

INFP

INTP

ESTP

ESFP

ENFP

ENTP

ESTJ

ESFJ

ENFJ

ENTJ

I’m not going to go into the 16 types in detail because there are lots of Websites that will do that for you.  One site that lays them all out in an easy-to-read grid is at http://www.mbtitoday.org/typechars.html, and you might want to bring that up in another browser window right now by clicking that link.  More links will be given at the end of this article.

The four pairs of letters are as follows.  Don’t get stuck on the single-word name that goes with each one, the brief explanation is more important.

  • I/E: Introvert/Extravert:  Where do you get your energy?  From people and activity, or from solitude?  Introverts focus internally for their energy and inspiration, Extraverts focus outward.  75% of the general public are E.
  • N/S:  iNtuitive/Sensing:  How do you gather information?  Sensing people look at things happening in the present; intuitives project to the future . 75% of the general public are S.
  • F/T:  Feeling/Thinking:  How do you make decisions?  Feelers rely on their values and subjective view; thinkers use logic and objective analysis. The general public is split 50/50.
  • P/J:  Perceiving/Judging:  How do you like things to be?  Perceivers like to keep options open; judgers like things to be planned out. The general public is split 50/50.

 From these four two-letter choices come the sixteen four-letter Types: ISTJ, ISTP, ESTP, ESTJ and so on.

OUR RESULTS

 The 38 responses I received break down as shown in this table:

 

Sensing Types

Intuitive Types

Introverts

ISTJ

ISFJ

INFJ

INTJ

 

CD,CD,CD

TS

TS,TG,CD,TS,TG

CD,TG

 

ISTP

ISFP

INFP

INTP

 

CD,CD

CD,CD,TG,TG

CD

CD,TS

Extraverts

ESTP

ESFP

ENFP

ENTP

 

 

 

TS

CD

 

ESTJ

ESFJ

ENFJ

ENTJ

 

CD,CD,TG

TS,TS,TS,TS

TS,CD,TS,TS

TS,CD,CD,
CD,CD

(Note that “TG” includes anyone who declined to state CD or TS, besides those who specifically identified as “transgender.”)

A few bits of basic analysis float to the top right away:

  1. Most CD’s are Thinkers (total of 14 “Thinking” out of 19 total CD’s=73%).
  2. Most TS’s are Feelers (total of 11 “Feeling” out of 13 total TS’s=84%)
  3. The most common Types are INFJ and ENTJ (both 5).
  4. The least common Types are ESTP and ESFP (both zero).

THE TYPES

Each of the 16 Types has specific characteristics, and even a one-word description to go with it.  You can get a lot more on the Types at the Websites listed in this article, but let me just describe a few of the top ones in our survey:

    INFJ:  Compassionate, conceptual, creative, deep, determined, idealistic, intense, intimate, loyal, methodical, reflective, sensitive. INFJ’s like working in small groups or alone.  They like using their inspiration to help others grow and develop.  (1 CD, 2 TS, 2 TG)

    ENTJ:  Challenging, controlled, decisive, energetic, logical, methodical, objective, opinionated, planful, straightforward, strategic, tough-minded.  ENTJ’s like working with others especially when they can be in charge, but they have to learn to identify and value the feelings of themselves and others.  (4 CD’s, 1 TS)

    ISFP:  Adaptable, caring, cooperative, gentle, harmonious, loyal, modest, observant, sensitive, spontaneous, trusting, understanding. ISFP’s are gentle and considerate toward those needing help.  They are open-minded and flexible, but may not be assertive enough and can be easily hurt. (2 CD, 2 TG)

    ESFJ:  Conscientious, cooperative, harmonious, loyal, personable, planful, responsible, responsive, sociable, sympathetic, tactful, traditional. ESFJ’s value getting along with others and enjoy organizing to complete tasks at hand.  They may not factor in their personal needs and wants.  (4 TS)

COMPARISONS

Here’s how we compared with the general population on each letter pair:

E/I:

Public:

75% Extravert / 25% Introvert

 

All of us:

47% Extravert / 53% Introvert

 

CD: 

42% Extravert / 58% Introvert

 

TS: 

69% Extravert / 31% Introvert


          The CD number here is way off the general public, with far more CD’s getting their energy and inspiration from inside themselves rather than outside forces.  The TS number is very close to the public one.
     

    S/N:

    Public:

    75% Sensing / 25% iNtuitive

     

    All of us:

    45% Sensing / 55% iNtuitive

     

    CD: 

    47% Sensing / 53% iNtuitive

     

    TS: 

     38% Sensing / 62% iNtuitive

    All our subgroups—CD, TS and TG—are way more iNtuitive than the general public.  We all take in information through a “sixth sense” and infer things that might happen. Since all our respondents were M-to-F, perhaps we have more “feminine intuition” than most biological men.

 

F/T:

Public:

Public: 50% Feeling / 50% Thinking

 

All of us:

53% Feeling / 47% Thinking

 

CD: 

26% Feeling / 74% Thinking

 

TS: 

 84% Feeling / 16% Thinking

    Our overall average is very close to the general public’s 50/50. But look how different our subgroups are!  The CD’s organize and structure information and make decisions in a logical, objective way.  The TS’s prefer to do these things in a personal, value-oriented way.  (Note that Thinking might be consdidered stereotypically male, while Feeling might be stereotypically female.)
     

P/J:

Public:

Public: 50% Perceiving / 50% Judging

 

All of us:

29% Perceiving / 71% Judging

 

CD: 

37% Perceiving / 63% Judging

 

TS: 

 15% Perceiving / 85% Judging

    Our overall, and both subgroups, are all more Judging than the general public, with the TS’s considerably more so.  Judging points to a preference for a planned and organized life (as opposed to spontaneous and flexible).  Perhaps we’ve had enough surprises already?
     

WHAT THE RESPONDENTS SAID

Here are a few excerpts from the comments received from survey respondents:

    “I've found the INTP/ENTP description to fit fairly well. Something that I find interesting that I haven't seen in the descriptions is that I tend to be contextually extroverted. My T-side loves ideas, so in the classroom or at conferences or on professional mailing lists, I'm much more extroverted than I am in other parts of my life.”

    “Just took test i am ENTJ which i found very accurate...never took a test of this type but very informative... “

    “[The test] determined that I was an INFJ. When I first took the test (1/10/03), I scored as a ISFJ. Do you think that getting deeper into the TG life was the cause of it? Just wondering...”

    “It was a fun little test and the results seem to fit Me to a T...I have been dressing since I was seven years old... My type was INFJ and I would consider Myself a pre-op transexual and would consider Myself Bi-sexual...”

    “I tested as an ENFJ but this test has been inconsistent for me...   years ago I tested with my company and got a ENTP ... I was also not in a period of dressing en femme at that time, I am dressing regularly in public now. It appears the E and the N are fixed and the feeling thinking percieving judging part has changed since my acceptance of my femininity... this kinda makes some sense. “

    “I identify myself as a Transgendered in love with women and all things of the feminine world.  This test was eerie in parts in the way it described me [ISFP].  I am an artist and a writer and a sensualist -- so much of it struck right in the bullseye. Some was kind of outside of the red circle though, but still close enough to call it a score.”

    “[ESFJ] My test answers were significantly different from what they would have been a few years ago when I was closeted and in self-denial.”

WHERE TO GO FROM HERE?

    I personally found this exercise fascinating.  In this tiny sample, there are some really significant differences between the transgender sample as a whole and the general public. There are also some very interesting differences between the CD and TS groups represented here.

    If you are reading this because you took the online Myers-Briggs test at my open request, what do you think your Type says about you?  If you think about conversations you had with other people, or things you tried to do with them that did or didn’t work out so well, can you see ways that your personality type may have influenced the outcome?  What do you have to watch out for in yourself so you can improve your communication or get more satisfaction out of what you do?  (This is why companies and organizations use the MBTI--to improve communication between employees, and between staff and customers.)

    If  this article has stirred your curiosity, would you like to take the online version yourself?  Go to http://www.humanmetrics.com/cgi-win/JTypes2.asp and take a few minutes to answer the 72 yes/no questions; you’ll receive your 4-letter Type immediately, along with a summary of what it means.  (Please remember that the full Myers-Briggs test is much more complete, and is administered by a professional facilitator who can really help you make the most of it.)  If you do the test, I’d appreciate it if you would send me your result, along with your self-identification of TS, CD or something else. I’ll add your responses to the ones I already have (anonymously, of course).

    Are you active in a TG support group or other organization? Perhaps the Myers-Briggs test could help you and your members better communicate and work together. Organizations of all kinds have found it to be valuable enough that they pay thousands of dollars to have the test professionally administered and evaluated.

    Finally, if you are a mental health professional or researcher, or perhaps you know such a person well, do you think this survey could (and should) be expanded into a real, valid study?  Would it help a person trying to figure out where they fall in the TG universe if they knew their MBTI Type? If so, I hope you will go out and find a way to produce that research.

LINKS:

Like this article? Have any comments or questions?  Please Email RenoDana!