Americans support transgender rights, especially when they know a trans person | John A. Tures

That support outstrips the efforts of policymakers who would take away their rights

April 20, 2023 6:30 am
Transgender Flag held in the sky.

Transgender Flag held in the sky.

Few Americans are being politically targeted more than those who identify as transgender, a different gender than the one assigned at birth, or simply by choosing no gender at all. 

Transgender people seem like easy targets when you look at the sheer volume of legislative attempts to restrict or ban their actions.  However, when you put it to the American people, they are far more likely to be accepting, especially if the person in question knows someone who is transgender.

Even before the shooting in Nashville, Tenn., allegedly by someone who identified as transgender, there have been political attempts to target these Americans. Some may claim religious reasons, but others in politics see this as an excellent “wedge” issue, betting that most Americans find transgender folks to be abhorrent.  

Some who never cared much for women’s sports before suddenly began championing it, to “protect girls” from athletes who once were boys. Perhaps it could be spun as a library book issue (back to banning) or a bathroom concern, or even empowering those to block treatments, initially for minors, though we’ve seen states that up those bans well past the minor age.

“A majority, 54%, still oppose criminalizing this type of medical care, including 56% of independents,” according to Domenico Montanaro of NPR/PBS/Marist polling from late March.  “What’s more, a majority of respondents said they oppose laws that would restrict drag shows or performances in their states.  Earlier this month, Tennessee passed a bill to do just that, while in more than a dozen other states, there are GOP efforts afoot to do the same.  But the majority is not on their side — 58% oppose such laws. Republicans, on yet another issue, stand out against the majority, as 61% support these laws. Just a quarter of Democrats and fewer than 4 in 10 independents do.

A Gallup poll reveals that a two-thirds majority of Americans support the right of transgender people to serve in the U.S. military.  People still favor restrictions on trans people playing youth sports in a different gender category than the one the would-be athlete was born into.  

Whether one actually knows someone who identifies as trans makes a person more supportive of trans rights.  Support for allowing someone to compete in sports in a different gender than one from birth jumps nine percentage points among those who know someone who identifies as transgender. 

Those who actually know someone who is transgender are also more likely to support that person serving in the military, by 12 percentage points.

There’s also evidence that those who undergo the process of gender transformation find the experience to be a positive one.  A Washington Post surveyfound that among those who present themselves as a gender different from the one they were assigned at birth, 78% said they have become happier with their lives since transitioning. More than 40 percent said they were much happier.”

I don’t have all of the answers about what it’s like to be a transgender American. And there are medical and political people on both sides who claim they know what’s best for someone wishing to change genders.  But I do believe strongly that whatever that person chooses, that the person should be treated with true Christian love, especially if we’re serious about lowering suicide rates.

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John Tures
John Tures

Opinion contributor John A. Tures is a professor of political science at LaGrange College in LaGrange, Ga.  His views are his own.  He can be reached at [email protected]. His Twitter account is JohnTures2.