Even though more Americans either know a trans individual or know someone who prefers gender-neutral pronouns, a new survey from the Pew Research Center has revealed that acceptance of trans rights and equality remains incredibly slow to change.
The Advocate’s Trudy Ring reported on the Pew survey that included 10,000 U.S. adult respondents — most of whom say there is someone in their day-to-day life who is transgender or uses gender-neutral pronouns. Despite this dramatic increase in knowledge, awareness and interaction, the survey revealed that actual acceptance of trans and nonbinary people has not only been slow to change but is still tethered to factors such as an individual’s age, geographic region or political party.
According to Ring, “42% of survey respondents said they personally know someone who is trans, [increasing] five percentage points from 2017.”
Similarly, the Pew study revealed that “26% also said they’re acquainted with a person who prefers gender-neutral pronouns, such as ‘they,’ up from 18% when the question was last asked in 2018.”
However, despite these advances, little has changed when it comes to actual acceptance for trans individuals: 56% of those surveyed staunchly defended the discriminatory idea that “a person’s gender is what they were assigned when born,” while just 41% of respondents said they accepted the notion that “gender can differ from the sex assigned at birth.”
The researchers from the Pew survey said both findings were virtually unchanged since a similar poll was conducted in 2017.
“Half of Americans say they would feel very or somewhat comfortable using a gender-neutral pronoun to refer to someone if they were asked to do so, while 48% say they would feel very or somewhat uncomfortable doing so,” Pew said.
Not surprisingly, younger adults, Democrats and those with the highest levels of education were also more likely to support trans rights and report either knowing a transgender person or knowing someone who uses gender-neutral pronouns.
“Democrats are much more likely to say a person’s gender can differ from what they were assigned at birth — 63% of Democrats versus 17% of Republicans,” Ring reported. “Those figures are about the same as four years ago.”
According to Ring, “about two-thirds of Democrats said they would be somewhat or very comfortable using gender-neutral pronouns for another person, but about two-thirds of Republicans said they’d be somewhat or very uncomfortable.”
The Pew study comes as an increasing number of states across the country continue to approve and enact harsh new anti-trans laws, stripping trans individuals of parental rights, medical care and, in some regions, even bathroom access.
As of June 2021, advocacy groups reported that more than 100 different anti-trans laws were either currently being debated or had already been approved in states across the nation — marking the worst year ever for trans acceptance and equality in U.S. history.