Most Americans Say Their Support For Transgender Rights Has Grown In Recent Years

As the Trump administration works to roll back rights for transgender people, a majority of Americans say they’ve become more supportive toward transgender rights in recent years, according to a national survey released Tuesday.

According to a survey conducted in April by nonpartisan research group Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI), more than 6 in 10 respondents (62%) said they’re more supportive of transgender rights now than they were five years ago.

However, the survey did not find that Americans’ views had changed significantly in the past two years on some key transgender rights issues ― including transgender people serving in the military and using the public restrooms of their choice.

For instance, 63% of respondents said they supported allowing transgender people to serve in uniform ― similar to the rate of support in 2017 (64%), per the research group’s survey that year.

And when it comes to so-called “bathroom bills” ― or legislation pushed in some states in recent years that would require transgender people to use bathrooms matching the sex they were assigned at birth ― Americans are divided over the policy, with 45% in favor and 47% against.

Support for the policy has been “fluid” in the last couple years, per the researchers ― with the rate of those who favor the anti-trans policy increasing from 38% in 2017 to 45% in 2019, but the rate of those who oppose it also dropping slightly from 50% then to 47% now.   

Since President Donald Trump took office in 2017, his administration has repeatedly sought to roll back the rights of transgender Americans. It has rescinded protections for transgender students that had barred schools from discriminating based on kids’ gender identities and has banned transgender people from serving in the U.S. military, among other protections it has rolled back.

“It’s important for policymakers, advocates and the public at large to recognize that the will of a few people who happen to be in power right now does not broadly represent all Americans’ ― or even a majority of Americans’ ― views,” report co-author Natalie Jackson, director of research at PRRI, told HuffPost.  

Demonstrators rally in New York's Times Square on July 26, 2017, to protest Trump's announcement of a ban on transgender troo

Demonstrators rally in New York’s Times Square on July 26, 2017, to protest Trump’s announcement of a ban on transgender troops serving in the military.

It’s worth noting that while Americans’ overall support for transgender people serving in the military has remained steady since 2017, support has actually grown among Republicans specifically ― up from 37% in 2017 to 47% in 2019, per the report.

The survey also found that most Americans (63%) said they’d be somewhat or very comfortable having a close friend tell them they are transgender ― including more than half of Republicans (52%).

However less than half of Americans (48%) said they’d feel somewhat or very comfortable with having their own child be transgender.

A majority of Americans also still believe there are only two genders (55%), while 40% believe there is a range of possible gender identities.

While only about a quarter of Americans (24%) say they have a close friend or family member who is transgender, that figure has more than doubled since 2011, when only 11% did, per PRRI’s survey.

The survey of 1,100 adults was conducted by phone over roughly two weeks in April and had a margin of error of about 3.5 percentage points.