Over the past few months, it’s felt as though the LGBTQ community has had to endure a tsunami of new anti-trans laws throughout the country. But thanks to a recent public opinion survey, there’s one thing that every lawmaker who supports such draconian legislation needs to realize:
They’re going against the wishes of the vast majority of the American people — across the ideological spectrum.
According to a poll from PBS Newshour, NPR, and Marist College, 66-percent, or “two-thirds of Americans are against laws that would limit transgender rights.”
Which would be encouraging news as it is. But this story gets really interesting in the poll’s demographic breakdown. For example, in answer to the question, “Do you support or oppose legislation that would prohibit transgender student athletes from joining sports teams that match their identity,” 69-percent of Democrats responded, “Oppose.”
That’s about as expected. Here’s the shocker: that number is almost matched by the 66-percent of Republicans who also answered “Oppose.” Quick, somebody tell the politicians in Arkansas, Idaho, Mississippi, Alabama, South Dakota, Oklahoma, Tennessee...
From those numbers, it seems as though anti-trans legislators are going against the wishes of their constituencies, even in the reddest of red states. However, the poll also includes another question that muddies the waters a bit.
When asked if high school athletes should be allowed to compete on teams that match their gender identity, 75-percent of Democrats answered “Yes.” That pretty lines up with the previous question.
However, over 80-percent of Republicans answered “No.” In other words, the majority of GOP respondents polled don’t believe states should ban trans athletes with new laws... but they still remain opposed to policies that allow trans athletes to compete according to their gender identity, such as is the case in Connecticut.
The sheer number of logical hurdles you have to leap to get to those two answers is practically Olympian. Ironically, if the Olympics added 400-meter logical hurdles as an event, these respondents would be breaking records like Caitlyn Jenner.
Outsports reached out to Marist College in an attempt to get clarification regarding this seeming incongruity. Marist Poll director Barbara L. Carvalho explained the logic underlying the two responses, noting that “Americans, as a whole, have little appetite for laws that single out trans student athletes. There is in fact a consensus among Americans for the Equality Act and significant opposition to state laws that would ban trans athletes from team play.”
Concerning the 80-percent of Republicans who oppose trans athletes being allowed to compete according to their gender identity, Carvalho concluded, “The second group of questions places the issue in a more personal setting, and there we see a divide. It’s also on these questions that we see differences between people who know someone who is transgender and those who don’t.”
Regardless of this wave of personal opposition, it’s still worth focusing on the lede: two-thirds of Americans oppose legalized discrimination against the transgender community. As we’re well aware, there’s a real human cost to state governments passing anti-trans legislation in spite of the sizable majority who oppose it, as out transgender college coxswain Eric Tannehill recently wrote in a Los Angeles Blade editorial:
“Republicans have decided that the most important thing to do in the middle of a pandemic is to take away life-saving treatment from children and ban them from playing sports. This has been painful for me. It’s like watching a murder in slow motion. I see what they’re doing and recognize that it’s going to get people killed and there’s nothing I can do but just watch as they target kids like me with a smile on their face and a Bible in hand.”
That’s why it’s so important to keep up the fight against legislative discrimination. Thousands of lives are at stake — and the vast majority of our fellow Americans seem to understand this. We have to continue pushing back until the people in power understand it too.