Gender Prison: Transgender Acceptance

The United Technologies/National Journal Congressional Connection Poll has found that the majority of Americans are in favor of the Employment Nondiscrimination Act even if it includes protections for transgender people.

But predictably it has found that there is less support for inclusivity among older Americans.

Even among supporters of new legislation barring employers from treating workers differently because of their sexual orientation, the poll found many people were less sure overall about extending protections to transgendered people.

The numbers reflect a longtime split in the LGBT activist community, in which the "T" has often taken a backseat and seen less recognition and progress on its issues. That has started to shift among the younger generation of activists and gay-rights supporters, and the poll results show a narrower gap between support for gay protections and transgender protections among younger respondents to the poll.

The Senate passed inclusive ENDA last month, but it is deemed unlikely that it will even get a vote in the Republican controlled House…since Boehner considers it "frivolous".

According to the poll, sixty-six percent of Americans want to make it illegal for workplaces to discriminate against workers on the basis of sexual orientation, with support at 75% among Americans aged 18-29. Support is at 66% among people 30-49, 65% in the 50-64 age group, and 57% among people 65 and older.

Fifty-six percent want the bill to include transgender people as well. Support for transpeople was at 67% among people 18-29, 57% in the 30-49 age group, 55% among those 50-64, but only 42% among seniors.

That adds up to a 25-point gap on transgender protections between the oldest and youngest surveyed. The big shift in generational attitudes helps explain how transgender protections came to be included in the most recent version of ENDA that passed the Senate. Just six years ago, that provision didn't make it into the final version of the bill Congress considered then.

The poll was conducted for the National Journal by Princeton Survey Research Associates International on December 5-8 by landline and cell phone, with a nationally representative sample of 1002 adults. It has a margin of error of 3.7%.

Another tidbit:

84% of those who favor passage think it should include transgender people and 14% oppose transgender inclusion.

My sense is that we are 20 years behind the mainstream gay and lesbian movement in terms of public understanding.

I see a lessening of anti-gay rhetoric as the American people get to know gays and lesbians. But fewer Americans know transgender people that way at this point, and that presents an opening that opponents of transgender rights can exploit.

--Michael Silverman, Transgender Legal Defense and Education Fund

This law [ENDA] is about forcing Bible-believing Christians to deny their faith rather than inconvenience cross-dressing, gender-confused adults.

--Rick Scarborough, Tea Party Unity

[S]tudents as young as 5 or 6 years old will be forced to watch should their teacher choose to transform herself from Marvin to Mary.

--Louis Sheldon, Traditional Values Coalition

The fact we've had so many victories on behalf of gays and lesbians means transgender people are now on the radar - and with it comes the nastiness. There have been so many advances regarding marriage that the anti-equality groups are shifting to target the next set of upcoming victories on transgender issues.

--Dru Levasseur, Lambda Legal's Transgender Rights Project

A huge number of Americans now have gay family members, gay co-workers ... but most of them don't know a transgender person, and that means we're ripe for scapegoating. There are a lot of people in this country who just are ignorant about us. They hear people in authority demeaning and dehumanizing us, and they believe it.

I think for the next few years, until transgender people are more visible, come out at work, we're still going to have a lot of ignorance out there.

--Mara Keisling, National Center for Transgender Equality

That is exactly why I do what I do, Mara.

A recent Pew poll revealed that only 8% of Americans say that they personally know someone who is transgender. So most people only know about transgender people through the media.

In a report last month, GLAAD examined 20 recent [i.e. in the last year] TV episodes that included transgender characters and deemed 60 percent of them to be negative or defamatory. Common themes, according to GLAAD, are portrayals of transgender people either as clownish or sociopathic.

Only two of the television shows were considered to provide positive portrayals.

Anti-transgender slurs, language and dialogue was even more prevalent in the past year than what was found in the previous report. Of the 20 episodes tracked, 75% (15) of them contained problematic language - often spoken by popular or sympathetic characters.

On the upside, characterizations in which the transgender person was a villain were down to 10% from 21% and roles in which the transgender person was a victim were down from 40% to 15%. Finally depictions of the transgender character as a sex worker were down from 20% to 15%.

We need to get more good images in the media, so people can see us as regular people, not as predators.

--Tiq Milan, GLAAD

No matter how one feels about homosexual rights ... there is a visceral reaction to the obvious implications of gender identity laws.

One implication is men - no matter how they appear or how they actually think or identify - being able to use women's changing rooms. The majority of people will not accept such laws.

--Michael Staver, Liberty Counsel

In many cases, transgender people are not convincing in their appearance, and therefore it may be more troubling to a lot of people,. It's something people really struggle with.

--Peter Sprigg, Family Research Council

More Sprigg: Homosexual and Transgender Employment Bill Threatens Religious Liberty.

Being who you are - being brave enough to be yourself. People can relate to that.






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