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Scripps News poll: Americans largely support restricting trans rights

More Americans are in favor of laws limiting transgender care for minors, even with parental consent, according to a recent Scripps News/YouGov poll.
Scripps News poll: Americans largely support restricting trans rights
Posted at 9:25 AM, May 03, 2023

More Americans support than oppose laws aimed at restricting transgender care for minors, and a majority favor banning transgender women in sports, according to a Scripps News/YouGov poll released Wednesday.

More than 4 in 10 Americans (44%) say they support "laws that would restrict and, or ban transgender care for minors, even with parents' consent," in their state. Thirty-four percent say they oppose such measures.

The results come as at least 16 states passed bills restricting or banning gender-affirming care for minors. That list includes Montana, where the debate hit a fever pitch when transgender Rep. Zooey Zephyr was punished for telling Republicans they would have "blood on [their] hands" if they supported the ban. Republican Gov. Greg Gianforte signed the bill into law on April 31.

More results of the survey will be released Thursday night as part of a Scripps News special, "Transgender Rights: America’s Divide." The 30-minute program, anchored by Maritsa Georgiou in Helena, Montana, begins at 9:30 p.m. ET Thursday. 

Melissa Moore, associate research director at YouGov, said high-profile events like the protests in Montana, conservative backlash over transgender athletes, and a suspected transgender school shooter in Tennessee have made transgender rights an increasingly political issue.

"That attention shows itself as a widening divide between Democrat and Republican responses to the issue," said Moore.

Previous surveys in recent years have found members of both parties opposed laws that could prohibit minors from accessing gender transition-related care. The Scripps News/YouGov poll shows that while sentiment may be moving against gender-affirming care, Americans hold increasingly partisan views on the legislation.  

In the Scripps News/YouGov poll, 75% of Republicans say they support the more restrictive measures passing in their states, while 60% of Democrats say they oppose those measures.

A plurality of independents favor the new laws, with 45% saying they support restrictions on gender-affirming care versus 29% saying they oppose limits.

"This more recent data shows Republicans have a strong response against trans care and admission to women’s sports, whereas Democrats are strongly in favor of those same issues. Both parties have shifted — Republicans and independents much more so than Democrats," said Moore.

Strong support to ban trans women from school sports

The poll also found most Americans (54%) support a federal ban on transgender females competing in school athletics.

That includes a majority of Republican (83%) and independent (58%) voters. Just 34% of Democrats say they support amending Title IX to bar transgender females from participating in women’s school sports, with 41% saying they oppose such a ban.

Fairness in women’s athletics has become a hot-button political issue.

Last month, President Biden proposed new guidelines that would prohibit blanket bans on transgender athletes competing in sports. The proposal would, however, allow some limitations in highly competitive sports or activities where injuries could occur.

The issue has also become a focus for Republicans in the early months of the 2024 presidential campaign. Republican presidential candidates, including Donald Trump and Nikki Haley, have released videos pledging to outlaw transgender athletes in women’s sports.

The Scripps News/YouGov poll finds 72% of conservatives "strongly support" these bans. That number climbs to 86% among "very conservative" voters.

Many Americans still unsure

Even amidst the increased attention, many Americans say they don’t fall on either side of the issue.

About 1 in 5 respondents said they either don’t know enough or don’t have an opinion about the laws targeting minors' care. That number was similar for the question on transgender athletes competing in sports.

"It is easy to see how each party politicizes the issue differently. But why the uncertainty?" said Moore. "My interpretation is that the issue is complicated, and more attention means more details to consider ... The party split is clear, but interpreting the growing uncertainty is more difficult."

The Scripps News/YouGov poll was conducted April 28–May 1, 2023, of 1,000 respondents reached by web-based interview and has an overall margin of error of +/- 3.84.

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