Transgender issues have been in the news quite a bit recently, from September’s controversy over Chaz Bono’s appearance on Dancing with the Stars to the Girl Scouts of Colorado’s choice to accept Bobby Montoya, a 7-year-old transgender child who had previously been turned away.
A new survey from Public Religion Research Institute shows that two-thirds of Americans report feeling well-informed about transgender issues, and importantly, most Americans are able to state in their own words what transgender means.. Among the 91% of Americans who report that they have heard of the term transgender, 76% provided an accurate definition.
Not only are Americans relatively well-informed about what transgender means, they overwhelming support policies to provide transgender people with legal protections.
- Approximately 9-in-10 (89%) Americans—including strong majorities of all religious and partisan groups—agree that transgender people deserve the same rights and protections as other Americans.
- In 2009, President Obama signed a bill that extended previously existing hate crimes legislation to make it a federal crime to assault an individual because of his or her gender identity. Seventy-four percent of Americans favor this expansion.
- Three-quarters (75%) of Americans agree that Congress should pass laws to protect transgender people from job discrimination.
But despite this overwhelming support, a recent spate of hate crimes against transgender people here in Washington, DC shows that violence against transgender people remains an issue.
What does this mean for transgender issues more generally? Our recent report, Generations at Odds: The Millennial Generation and the Future of Gay and Lesbian Rights, showed that there is at significant generation gap between Millenials (age 18-29) and seniors (age 65 and up) on issues like same-sex marriage, laws that would protect gay and lesbian people against job discrimination, allowing gay and lesbian people to adopt children, and civil unions. This generational divide also persists in our findings on transgender people, indicating that as time goes on, Americans will likely become even more supportive of transgender equality.