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How Religion and Politics Are Affecting Transgender Acceptance

A new Pew Research study has found religion and political affiliation to be the dividing factor on transgender issues.

Though the results are not shocking to members of the transgender and non-binary community, the Pew study does give some valuable insight into how generational differences, party affiliations, belief systems, and visibility affects attitudes towards the transgender and non-binary community. The survey was comprised of 4,573 respondents who were asked questions about their views of gender and acceptance.

Let’s take a look at some of the findings:

Religion

The study found sharp difference in opinion when asked whether it was possible for someone to be a gender other than what they were assigned at birth. 63% of Christians believed that gender was determined by assigned sex at birth while 62% of those who were unaffiliated with a religion (atheists, agnostics, and no religion) said that gender could be different from what was assigned at birth.

Among the Christian group, 84% of White Evangelicals believed gender was determined by assigned sex while Catholics were at 51%. Protestants overall were at 68%. Among the unaffiliated, 71% of the Atheist/Agnostic group said gender could be different than the sex that was assigned at birth with 57% of those identifying with no belief in particular being in agreement.

The group was then asked whether American society had either gone too far, been about right, or have not gone far enough in accepting transgender people. 28% of Christians said that society has not gone far enough while 39% said it has gone too far. The most glaring sect was again White Evangelicals, where only 12% felt society has not gone far enough and 61% saying it has gone too far. 57% of the unaffiliated group felt society has not gone far enough with transgender acceptance while only 20% saying it has gone too far. 68% of Atheist/Agnostics felt society has not gone far enough while 52% with no beliefs in agreement.

We would have like to have seen more of a diverse representation of other faiths included in the overall study; however it does reflect a sharp divide in views towards the transgender and non-binary community when it comes to religion.

The study also found 34% of Christians knew someone who identifies as transgender while 43% of those who were unaffiliated also knew someone.

Politics

When it had come to political views and transgender acceptance, 54% of all adults surveyed said that gender was determined by assigned sex at birth. A whopping 80% of those who leaned Republican believed that gender was determined by assigned sex at birth while 64% who leaned Democrat believed gender could be different than what was assigned at birth. The data also showed a generational difference towards transgender acceptance with those from 72-89 years old having only 37% who believed gender could be different than what was assigned at birth with 50% of Millennials (18-36 years old) saying gender could be different than what was assigned at birth.

When asked whether American society had either gone too far, been about right, or have not gone far enough in accepting transgender people, 39% of adults felt it had not gone far enough while 32% had felt it had gone too far. 57% of Republicans felt society had gone too far in accepting transgender people while 60% of Democrats felt it had not gone far enough.

Visibility also came into play for the study. 52% of those surveyed who knew a transgender person felt society had not gone far enough in accepting transgender people compared to 31% of those who did not know a transgender person. Only 23% of those who knew a transgender person felt society has gone too far with acceptance while 37% of those surveyed who did not know a transgender person agreeing.

What the study tells us is that visibility plays an important role in how transgender people are accepted in society. It has also shown that with each generation, the rate of acceptance is growing. Of the people surveyed, nearly 40% of them now know someone who is transgender. 37% know someone personally while 24% have a transgender acquaintance. 6% were family members, 9% were close friends, and 7% were co-workers.

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