Public Opinions on Trans Rights and Gender Identity Differ

MAmericans support policies to protect transgender people from discrimination. Americans believe transgender people should have the right to access the bathrooms that reflect their gender identity. According to a recent survey, a rising majority of Americans believes that gender is determined at birth.

There are some interesting intersections in attitudes toward gender. Essentially, at the same time that most Americans surveyed by the Pew Research Center support a range of policies to protect the rights of trans people, a full 60% do not believe that a person’s gender can be different from their sex assigned at birth, according to the May 2022 poll of 10,188 U.S. adults. This opinion is rising in popularity from the 56% that was asked last year.

Pew is a social science and polling firm that does not advocate partisanship or advocacy. The study’s authors claim that there was no group responsible for the rise in people believing gender is equal to sex at birth. “Certainly Republicans are more likely to say that than Democrats,” says Anna Brown, a research associate at Pew and one of the co-authors of the study. “But it’s increased among both Republicans and Democrats.” The respondents more likely to believe that gender and sex were indivisible included those older than 50, and those with a high school education or less. Black respondents agreed more than any other race that genders and sexes were identical when broken down by their race.

However, even among those who hold that view, there’s a diversity of opinion about what rights transgender people should be accorded. “There’s a lot of different nuanced views within that group,” says Brown. “Half of adults in this group say they would favor laws that would protect trans people from discrimination. About one in four say forms and online profiles should include options other than male or female.”

The report suggests that America’s views about policies that affect trans people are also complex. Over half the people surveyed support trans athletes being allowed to participate in teams that are based on the gender they were born with. However, a majority believe public schools should have the ability to teach gender identity lessons. Nearly half of American adults say it’s important to use the new name of a person who has transitioned but only about a third say the same about using their new pronouns.

The study also suggests that public opinion on trans rights may be becoming less progressive—at least for the moment. “The share [of people] saying that society has gone too far in accepting trans people has grown since 2017,” notes Brown. Young people, on the other hand are more likely to believe that gender and sexuality at birth do not necessarily go together; 50% of those below 30 agree with this belief. “Adults aged 65 and older are the most likely to say that views on these issues are changing too quickly,” says Brown, “while those younger than 30 are the most willing to say they’re actually not changing quickly enough.” Younger Democrats are more accepting of a range of gender identities than older Democrats, but age makes less difference among Republicans.

However, there was some common ground in their opinions. The link between gender and sex at birth was a matter of opinion for both groups. However, science is what was most influential in their opinions.

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