Metro Weekly

62% of Americans say they’ve become more supportive of transgender rights over past 5 years

63% of Americans say they support transgender people serving openly in the military, PRRI survey finds

Source: Ted Eytan – Flickr

A new survey finds that Americans have grown increasingly more supportive of transgender rights.

According to the survey, by the Public Religion Research Institute, 62% of Americans say they’ve become more supportive of trans rights over the last five years, versus 25% who say they’ve grown more opposed.

Support for transgender people in the abstract has grown across partisan lines, with 76% of Democrats and 64% of independents saying they’ve become more supportive.

Forty-seven percent of Republicans overall say they’ve become more supportive, while 36% say they’ve become less supportive over the past five years. Only Republicans who self-identify as conservatives still oppose trans rights, with 43% saying they’re less supportive and 40% saying they’re more supportive.

Majorities of every major religious group have become more supportive in recent years, including 69% of unaffiliated Americans, 68% of Catholics, 60% on nonwhite Protestants, 57% of white mainline Protestants, and even 52% of white evangelical Protestants.

The survey polled a random sample of 1,100 adults over the age of 18 between April 9, 2019 and April 20, 2019. The margin of error for the survey is plus or minus 3.5 percentage points at the 95% level of confidence.

Notably, support for transgender rights in the abstract has risen over the past five years despite the fact that most Americans aren’t familiar with transgender individuals.

Just 24% of Americans report having a transgender friend or family member, compared to 46% who report close ties to a bisexual person and 68% who report having a gay or lesbian friend or family member.

“This broad and growing support for transgender rights from nearly every group and across party and religious lines demonstrates just how dramatically American attitudes have shifted across the last decade,” Robert P. Jones, the CEO of PRRI, said in a statement. “This emerging consensus of support for transgender rights and increasing comfort with transgender people, especially among more conservative groups, is a sign that we may be seeing the beginning of the end of transgender issues being used as political wedges.”

The survey also asked Americans about their opinions about the Trump administration’s ban on transgender military members. Sixty-three percent of Americans say they support open transgender military service, including 66% of independents, 78% of Democrats, and 47% of Republicans.

Notably, the number of Republicans supporting open military service has risen 10% from two years ago, while the number of Democrats supporting it has fallen 5% during that same time period.

Support for trans military service is broad among all racial and religious groups, with 68% of nonwhite respondents and 61% of white respondents expressing support. Majorities of nearly every major religious group favor allowing transgender people to serve openly.

Support rises to 71% among the religiously unaffiliated, 65% among Catholics and mainline Protestants, and 63% among non-white Protestants. White evangelical Protestants are split with 49% in favor of open service and 46% opposed. Support is stronger among women, 67% of whom favor open service, versus 59% of men.

Americans express varying levels of support for transgender rights based on different contexts. For example, 63% of Americans, including majorities of all political affiliations, say they would be somewhat or very comfortable having a close friend.

In contrast, only 56% of Americans say they’d be comfortable learning there was a transgender teacher at their local elementary school. While 68% of Democrats and 56% of independents say they’d feel comfortable, only 41% of Republicans agree with that sentiment.

Americans are evenly divided when asked about whether they’d be comfortable with their child telling them they are transgender. While 60% of Democrats say they’d be comfortable, only 50% of independents and 33% of Republicans agree.

Americans are also divided over policies that require transgender people to use bathroom consistent with their assigned sex a birth, with 45% supporting such policies and 47% opposing such policies.

However, there is evidence that the public’s views are very fluid on this issue, with support for trans-restrictive policies increasing since 2017, and opposition dropping slightly, but not in a statistically significant manner.

“We’re seeing Americans’ attitudes towards transgender people shift rapidly,” Jones added. “While the general trends are clearly toward more support for transgender rights, there remains some fluidity and uncertainty among some Americans as their general opinions and commitments get applied to specific policies.”

John Riley is the local news reporter for Metro Weekly. He can be reached at jriley@metroweekly.com

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