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Being transgender or transsexual.
Gender dysphoria, & gender identity

Polling results on the public's beliefs and
understanding re: transgender persons

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In this website, the term "LGBT" refers to lesbians, gays, bisexuals, transgender persons and transsexuals

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When this website first went online in 1995-APR, the most prominent cultural debate of concern to persons of faith was abortion access. By about 2005, a shift ocurred. The main battleground became the fight for equal rights for lesbians, gays and bisexuals, including the right to marry the person that they love and to whom they wish to make a lifetime committment,

We had suggested that the next conflict waiting in the wings would involve equal rights and protections for transgender persons and transsexuals. It would seem that by 2011, the time has arrived for the transgender individuals within the LGBT community to receive the attention that they deserve.

The events that may have caused a "tipping point" towards higher profile for transgender persons may have been the public appearances by Chaz Bono in 2011. He is the child of Sonny and Cher, and originally appeared on their TV program as a little girl, named Chastity. He had experienced gender identity conflicts since childhood. He underwent sexual reassignment surgery at the age of 30. He published a book "Transition: The story of how I became a man," in 2011-MAY. 1 He appeared on ABC's program Dancing with the Stars starting 2011-SEP, where he and his dancing partner -- Lacey Schwimmer -- competed for six weeks before being voted off. 2

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2011-APR: National poll by Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research for the Center for American Progress (CAP):

This poll sampled the opinion of 2,012 likely voters during the first half of APR. Results included:

  • 73% of voters support the protection of gay and transgender person from discrimination in employment. More details on the ENDA bill. This includes:
    • 81% of Democrats,
    • 74% of independents, and
    • 66% of Republicans.
    • 74% of Roman Catholics
    • 61% of senior lcitizen
    • 50% of those who generally feel unfavorable towards gays favor protection for LGBT persons.

  • There was no significant difference whether subjects were asked about protection on the basis of sexual orientation or sexual orientation + gender identity.

  • 90% of voters erroneously believe that a federal anti-discrimination law protecting LGBTs is currently in place. 3

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2011-JUN: MA: Poll of Massachusetts voters by Massachusetts Transgender Political Coalition and Lake Research Partners:

A poll indicates that, among Massachusetts voters:

  • 76% support a bill proposed to extend the existing employment anti-discrimination law to include transgender persons. Supporting the bill were
    • 90% of Democratic voters,
    • Almost 75% of Independents, and
    • 53% of Republican voters.

Their report concludes:

"In sum, voters support legal protections for transgender people in Massachusetts, and they want their legislators to vote in favor of the law. This is not a controversial issue for voters; equality, prohibiting discrimination and extending legal protections to everyone has become a core value in Massachusetts." 4

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2011-NOV: National Poll by Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI)

The importance given by the public to discrimination, rejection, and lack of equality suffered by transgedered persons become obvious in 2011-NOV with the release of data from the Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI). It is titled: "News Release | Strong Majorities Favor Rights & Legal Protections for Transgender People" and subtitled: "Americans have Solid Understanding of Transgender Identity."

PRRI's CEO, Dr. Robert P. Jones, writes:

"Three out of four Americans say Congress should pass employment nondiscrimination laws that protect transgender people. This strong support is also broad, persisting across party lines and the religious spectrum." 5

Few if any Republican representatives in the either the House or Senate would support such a law. So, with the makeup of Congress during 2011-2012, there is essentially no chance that the majority view of the American public will be honored.

PRRI's Research Director, Daniel Cox, wrote:

"To explore whether Americans know what the term ‘transgender’ means, we allowed them to define ‘transgender’ in their own words. More than two-thirds of Americans were able to give an essentially accurate definition of the term ‘transgender’ without any assistance." 4

In addition, 74% of American adults approved the recent expansion of the hate-crimes law to include transgender persons.

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Findings in the PRRI poll:

  • 89% of American adults believe that transgender persons should have the same rights and protections as others. This includes:
    • 95% of persons not affiliated with a faith group.
    • 93% of Roman Catholics
    • 90% of mainline Protestants
    • 83% of white evangelicals.
  • It also includes:
    • 94% of political independents
    • 92% of Democrats
    • 86% of Republicans.

  • 75% believe that transgender persons should be protected from job discrimination. This includes:
    • 65% of white evangelicals -- the lowest support of all religious groups.

  • 74% are in agreement with the 2009 law that expanded the hate-crime law to give protecion to victims of crimes based on gender, sexual orientation or gender identity.This includes:
    • 65% of white evangelicals -- the lowest support of all religious groups.

  • About 65% of adults agree that they feel well informed on transgender matters; about 30% disagree.

  • 91% of adults have heard of the term "transgender." Of these, 76% were able to give a resaoably accurate definition of the term.
  • 11% of adults said that they have a close friend or family member who is transgender. This compares to 58% of those who say they have a close friend or family member who is gay or lesbian.

  • N = about 1,000; margin of error is ~+mn~3.0 percentage points at 95% level of confidence. 4

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References used:

  1. Chaz Bono, "Transition: The story of how I became a man," Dutton Adult, (2011). Read reviews or order this book safely from online book store
  2. " 'Dancing With the Stars' 2011: Chaz Bono Voted Off in Week 6 of Season 13," ABC News, 2011-OCT-5, at:
  3. Jeff Krehely, "Polls Show Huge Public Support for Gay and Transgender Workplace Protections," Center for American Progress, 2011-JUN-02, at:
  4. Dan Meyer, "Poll: 76 Percent of Mass. Voters Support Transgender Rights Bill," EDGE Publications, 2011-JUN-22, at:
  5. "News Release | Strong Majorities Favor Rights & Legal Protections for Transgender People," Public Religion Research Institute, 2011-NOV-03, at:

Copyright Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance.
Originally posted: 2011-NOV-04
Latest update: 2011-NOV-04
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