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H.R.C. Study Releases Survey Findings on
U.S. Public Attitudes on Transgender
(The Gender Centre advise that this article may not be current and as such certain content, including
but not limited to persons, contact details and dates may not apply. Where legal authority or medical related matters are
cited, responsibility lies with the reader to obtain the most current relevant legal authority and/or medical
In September 2002 the Human Rights Campaign announced the findings of a poll that focuses on
public perception of transgender issues. The poll shows that while most people accept that a person can be transgender, more education is
needed. Seventy percent of Americans have heard the word transgender and a majority have, on some level, contemplated the
Most people accept that it is possible for a person to be "born as one sex but inside feel like the other sex" but many are
confused about what transgender means, and who should be considered transgender.
Respondents overwhelmingly favoured transgender students attending public schools and there is a strong consensus that no one should be
subjected to violence and discrimination because of who they are. There are, however, differences on how to address these issues.
The poll found that sympathizers who believe in transgender equality favor transgender-specific laws and opponents prefer using what
they erroneously believe to be existing laws to protect transgender people. Additionally, there is conflict in the public view on
transgender as a moral issue and whether people have a choice about being transgender.
"Three-quarters of those who say being transgender is a choice, also see it as a moral issue," said a spokesperson for the
H.R.C., "while two-thirds who do not see it as a moral issue say people are
born transgender." The majority favor laws to protect transgender people's rights. Transgender individuals also face the same problem
as gay and lesbian Americans, in that a great number of people believe that the law already protects these groups.
"The data clearly suggests that a strategic, step-by-step educational campaign that focuses on broadly supported issues - such as
hate crimes and discrimination protection — are the best place to start on the road toward equality," said the
Among other findings:
- 61 percent believe the country needs laws to protect transgender people from discrimination.
- 57 percent incorrectly believe that it is not legal to fire a person just because they are transgender.
- 67 percent agree that it is possible for a person to be born as one sex, but inside feel like another sex.
- 53 percent believe it is "all right" for a person to be transgender, while 37 percent believe that it is wrong.
- 77 percent of people believe that transgender students should be allowed to attend public schools.
- 48 percent of Americans would have "no problem" working with a transgender person, while only 8 percent claim they
"would not" be willing to.
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