A majority of Americans favor protecting transgender people from discrimination, but a rising share say a person’s gender is determined by their sex assigned at birth, and most support trans sports bans, a new poll from the Pew Research Center found.
The survey of more than 10,000 adults, which was conducted May 16-22 and published Tuesday, found that 60% say a person’s gender is determined at birth, up from 56% in 2021 and 54% in 2017.
Views on gender identity differ by age groups and even more sharply by political affiliation. Half of adults ages 18 to 29 say someone can be a different gender than the one assigned to them at birth, compared with about 4 in 10 of those ages 30 to 49 and about a third of those 50 and older, the report found. Democrats and those who lean toward the Democratic Party were four times more likely than Republicans and conservative-leaning people to say that someone’s gender can be different than the one assigned to them at birth.
The new poll also shed light on how people in the United States feel about one of the most politically debated issues regarding trans people — whether they should be allowed to compete on sports teams that correspond with their gender identity. Nearly 6 in 10 (58%) support policies that would require transgender athletes to compete on sports teams that match the sex they were assigned at birth, the survey found.
Of the hundreds of anti-LGBTQ bills filed in recent years — over 670 since 2018, according to an NBC News analysis — measures that would limit trans people’s participation in sports have been among the most popular and politically contentious in the nation’s state legislatures. Eighteen states have enacted the bills into law within recent years, with Louisiana doing so earlier this month.
Proponents of transgender sports bans say they are protecting fairness in women’s sports, arguing that trans girls and women have inherent advantages over cisgender girls and women.
Critics say the measures are less about protecting women’s sports and more about discriminating against trans people.