New data reveals mixed views on transgender rights

The Williams Institute has completed a new report, this time on public support for transgender rights in 23 countries.

The study was performed in partnership with the polling firm Ipsos and BuzzFeed News.

Participants were asked if they believe that transgender people should be...

1). protected from discrimination by the government.
2). allowed to use the restroom of the sex they identify with.
3). allowed to have surgery so that their body matches their gender identity.
4). allowed to marry a person of their "birth sex."
5). allowed to conceive or give birth to children.
6). allowed to adopt children.

This study provides evidence of high levels of support for transgender rights, as well as instances of strong opposition.

Some highlights (which in some cases don't really qualify as news):

–Seventy percent of all respondents agree that transgender people should be allowed to have gender-affirming surgery and should be protected from discrimination by the government. Outside of Asia, the level of support is at least 50 percent in each country.

A majority of people in each of the countries surveyed support the right of transgender people to change the sex listed on their identity documents.

A majority of respondents from 15 countries agreed that transgender people should be allowed to use the restroom associated with their gender identity. Respondents from Spain (76.7%), Argentina (72.4%), and India (71.6%) were most supportive. A majority of respondents in Russia (53.5%) disagreed that transgender people should be allowed to use the restroom associated with their gender identity.

Having transgender friends and family members has a strong effect on support for transgender rights. Those who report having such relationships are significantly more supportive of transgender rights than those who report not having such relationships.

Women are more supportive of transgender rights than men.

Individuals with medium and high levels of education are more supportive of transgender rights than those with low levels of education.

A scale was created to assess support for transgender rights using six survey items: support for transgender people’s ability to undergo gender reassignment surgery, use the restroom corresponding to their gender identity, marry, give birth, adopt children, and have government protection from discrimination. Scale scores reflect very disapproving to very approving attitudes. Figure II plots each country’s average score on this scale in support for transgender people and rights, indicating average respondent support in each country.

Spain (at 74) and Sweden (at 72) ranked highest among all the countries, followed by Argentina and Canada (70), Germany (68), Belgium (63), Great Britain (67), Australia (62), US and India (61), Brazil (59), Mexico (60), France (58), South Africa (57), Japan (54), Italy (57), Turkey (54), China (52), Peru (50), Hungary an Poland (49), South Korea (48), and Russia (41).

People who said they personally know someone who is transgender are substantially more supportive of transgender rights in nearly every country we surveyed. In some countries, people who know a transgender person were 30% more supportive on the scale calculated by BuzzFeed News.

Less than 3% of respondents identify as transgender in almost all the countries we surveyed — the only country where the score was higher was the United States, where 5% said they “dress and live as one sex even though they were born another.”

Brazilian participants reported that 50% know a transgender person, while in Mexico that number is 45%. Lowest were South Korea and Japan at 10%. and China at 11%. In the US this number is at 26%.

When asked if transgender people should be protected from discrimination by the government, Spanish respondents answered most affirmatively with 87% strongly agreeing or somewhat agreeing. India came next at 85%, followed by Argentina at 81%, the UK at 78%, Australia at 75%, the US at 71%, Brazil at 62%, Japan at 62%, Turkey at 60% and Russia at 41%.

Asked if transgender people have a mental illness, Russia leads with agreement by 64% of repondents, followed by India with 57%, Turkey with 51%, the US with 32%, Australia and Japan with 21%, the UK (13%), Argentina (13%), and Spain (8%).

Less than half on American respondents hold the belief that "being transgender is a natural occurrence": 20.1% stongly agreed, 24.1% somewhat agreed, 21.3% strongly disagreed, and 16.6% somewhat disagreed. 17.9% chose "don't know."

More than three in four believed trans people should be able to change their gender identity on government documents.

Meanwhile more Americans believed transgender people should be able to the restroom of their choice, rather than be prescribed by legislators.

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