Most Americans say transgender bathroom policy should be based on birth gender: poll

Same Sex Restroom
A sign protesting a recent North Carolina law restricting transgender bathroom access adorns the bathroom stalls at the 21C Museum Hotel in Durham, North Carolina May 3, 2016. |

More American adults say that they favor policies requiring transgender individuals to use public bathrooms according to their birth gender than those who think policies should allow them facility use based on gender identity, a new Gallup poll has found. 

In mid to late May, Gallup surveyed 1,017 Americans ages 18 and over from all 50 states on questions related to their views on transgender bathroom use and transgender military service. The sample's margin of error is 4 percentage points.

The survey asked respondents about their opinions of policies that govern public restroom use, a hot topic that has emerged in recent years with various cities and municipalities enacting laws requiring that transgender individuals have access to bathrooms and locker rooms that match their gender identity. 

Fifty-one percent of respondents said that they believe governing policies should require transgender individuals to “use the restroom that corresponds with their birth gender.” Meanwhile, 44 percent said they think policies should allow transgender individuals to use restrooms that correspond with their gender identity. 

Gallup also found that the percentage of respondents who indicated that they have no opinion on the question (5 percent) is half of what it was in 2016. According to Gallup, this could indicate that respondents have “become more familiar with the issue in recent years.”

While LGBT activists claim that blocking access to bathrooms and changing facilities that correspond with gender identity violates the rights of transgender individuals, social conservatives have argued that policies allowing facility use based on gender identity put the privacy of women and children at risk. 

The poll found that 78 percent of Republicans and 61 percent of men prefer to have policies regulating facilities based on birth gender, while 66 percent of Democrats and 53 percent of women said they prefer policies based on gender identity. 

A higher percentage of Democrats (27 percent) said they think policies should be based on birth gender than Republicans (18 percent) who think policies should be based on gender identity. 

When broken down by age, the only subgroup with a majority saying they prefer bathroom policy based on gender identity were those aged 18 to 29. 

“Americans' views on gender-related policies governing public restrooms have shown little movement in recent years,” Gallup analyst Justin McCarthy wrote.

The research organization first polled on the question in 2016 when the U.S. Department of Education under President Barack Obama issued guidance to all public school districts urging them to allow students to use bathrooms and locker rooms consistent with their gender identity. 

That guidance was struck down later that year by a federal judge in Texas and rescinded by the Trump administration.  

At the time, the Obama administration butted heads with the Republican-led government of North Carolina over a state law requiring transgender individuals to use bathrooms according to their birth sex at all state government buildings. 

The subject became a national conversation and a number of companies threatened to boycott or cancel plans they had involving North Carolina because of the law. 

The poll also asked respondents about their opinions on unisex bathrooms. 

The survey asked whether or not they think separate bathrooms for men and women should be used in public places such as malls, stadiums and airports or should there be “unisex bathrooms that can be used by all genders.”

Sixty-eight percent of respondents said they prefer separate bathrooms for men and women, while 30 percent said there should be unisex bathrooms. 

As President Donald Trump continues to defend his ban on transgender troops, 71 percent of Americans said they favor allowing transgender individuals to serve in the military. 

Meanwhile, 26 percent of respondents said they oppose allowing transgender individuals to serve. 

Eighty-eight percent of Democrats, 78 percent of independents and 43 percent of Republicans said they favor allowing transgender individuals to serve in the military. Fifty-three percent of Republicans oppose allowing transgender individuals to serve in the military. 

The poll found that majorities of respondents from all age brackets said they favor allowing transgender military service. 

As some retired flag-rank military officer members have argued that allowing transgender Americans to serve in the military could impact military readiness, the poll shows that 56 percent of adults with military experience say that transgender Americans should be allowed to serve. 

The data shows that non-veterans (73 percent) were more likely to support allowing transgender Americans to serve. 

The Gallup data was conducted before the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals decision this month allowing the ban to stand while the case is reconsidered by a federal judge. 

Last week, the Democrat-controlled U.S. House of Representatives approved a measure to block the Pentagon from using funds to implement the transgender troop ban. However, that measure will likely fail in the Republican-controlled Senate. 

Follow Samuel Smith on Twitter: @IamSamSmith

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