Trans rights: keep up the argument

Submitted by AWL on 31 July, 2020 - 5:43 Author: Mohan Sen
Trans rights are human rights sign

Recently we reported on a YouGov poll commissioned by PinkNews which found that women were significantly more likely than men to support trans rights. More broadly the results of the poll seemed like relatively good news for the cause of trans rights.

According to that poll, men in the UK agree that “a person should... be able to self-identify as a gender different to the one they were born in” 43% to 33% (the rest say they don’t know). Women agree 57-21. The overall figure was 50-27 – though this was a slight decline from 2019.

Shortly afterwards YouGov followed up with another poll with much more specific questions. (Scroll to the bottom of that link for tables with the full data.) The results are less good news.

A clear plurality disagrees (28-47) that it should be made easier to change your legal gender. This is almost exactly the same as a similar poll in December 2018. On most issues in the poll, in fact, that is the case. Women are slightly more likely to agree (31-47) than men (25-48). The only groupings that agree are 18-24 year olds (42-27) and Labour-supporters (41-35). In 2018 a plurality of Labour voters disagreed.

A substantial majority, 65-16, think it should be necessary to get a doctor’s approval. That includes more women (67-14) than men (59-17).

Narrow pluralities agree that “a trans woman is a woman” and that “a trans man is a man”. There women are more progressive than men (47-30 and 49-29 vs 33-43 and 33-43).

More women than men agree that trans women should be able to use women toilets (54-24 vs 38-37) and changing rooms (49-28 vs 34-41).

However when these questions are asked specifically about trans people who have not had gender reassignment surgery, clear pluralities are against. For instance, 46% think trans women who have not had surgery should be allowed to use women’s changing rooms, against 26% who think they should. Women are more likely to think they should be allowed than men (30-42 vs 22-49).

And surely very significantly, men say that trans women using women's toilets and changing rooms constitutes "a genuine risk of harm to women", 37-31. Women say it doesn't 28-46.

The issue where there has been a substantial shift since 2018 is trans participation in sport. The numbers for whether trans women should be allowed to take part in women’s sporting events have gone from 27-48 to 20-55. Women say no 15-63, men 23-51.

Again, across the board of issues, 18-24 year olds and Labour-supporters are by some way the most likely groups to have progressive, pro-trans rights views. Remainers are substantially more pro-trans rights than Leavers.

Many of these results do not fit well with a “left” anti-trans rights narrative about "women's concerns", etc. They do, however, show how limited support for trans rights is, and suggest that the reactionary campaign of the last two years has had some impact. We are not necessarily making progress. Supporters of trans rights must keep arguing, as patiently as necessary, as forcefully as possible.

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