New report: White evangelicals are America’s most anti-trans demographics, but overall encouraging


In the latest important, albeit totally surprising, news, we learned this week that white evangelicals are more opposed to transgender rights than any other demographic in the United States. The data is in a new report by the Public Religion Research Institute, “Most Americans generally support pro-LGBTQ policies, but are more divided on details like transgender sports and bathroom policies,” which contains encouraging data on overall acceptance gay people plus some disheartening news about attitudes that particularly affect trans people.

The good news is that 82% of Americans say they “promote laws that protect LGBTQ people from discrimination in jobs, public housing and housing.” Protections of this nature, which were not previously guaranteed at the federal level (and therefore non-existent in many states), were upheld by the Supreme Court last year in its Bostock decision. Non-religious Americans are leading the pack on this measure, with 91% of them saying they support these basic protections against discrimination for gay people.

White evangelicals come last, although a solid 66% majority of that population claim to support these protections. Sadly, in the future, LGBTQ non-discrimination will almost certainly be seriously compromised by Roberts’ wide court acceptance of religious exemptions for conservative Christians – exemptions that white evangelicals, Mormons, and traditionalist Catholics in particular tend to lobby for.

Regarding religious exemptions, the report notes that most Americans (63%) “object to small business owners refusing to serve LGBTQ people if it violates their religious beliefs.” On the other hand, by PRRI:

“White Evangelical Protestants remain the only major religious group in which a majority favors denial of service based on religion, and their support for these exemptions is increasing. A majority of white Evangelical Protestants (62%) say they support allowing small business owners to refuse to serve LGBTQ people, up from 54% in 2019 and 51% in 2015. ”

While the overall outlook looks good for queer equality, at least when it comes to public opinion, the news for trans people is not as good. Since 2018, support for trans equality in key areas such as toilet access and participation in school sports has actually declined across a range of demographics, albeit much more strongly on the right than on the right. left. For example, 73% of Democrats supported allowing transgender girls to participate in high school athletics on teams with cisgender girls. That figure has now fallen to 62%. Among Republicans, on the other hand, support fell from 30% to 9%. Support among Americans is typically 36%, up from 50% in 2018. Support for trans boys competing in teams with cis boys is 46% today, up from 61% in 2018.

Here too, religious (non) affiliation is a highly significant factor. As the report notes:

The same pattern occurs across all faith groups, with white Evangelical Protestants being the least supportive of male (26%) or female (8%) transgender students attending high school athletic events with cisgender students who share their gender identity. . In contrast, members of other non-Christian religions (68% transgender men vs. 51% transgender women), Hispanic Catholics (64% transgender men vs. 57% transgender women), and Americans with no religious affiliation ( 60% transgender men vs. 52% transgender women) are the only religious groups in which majorities support the participation of transgender male and female students in high school sports.

When it comes to toilet access based on a trans person’s gender identity, 47% of Americans overall are in favor and 50% are against, numbers relatively unchanged in recent years but rising by compared to 2016 data. The diagram noted above also holds here. 72% of white evangelicals oppose equal access to toilets for trans people, compared to 28% of non-religious Americans, a figure that has essentially held steady since 2016.

In a year marked by some truly draconian anti-trans initiatives, such as Arkansas law ban gender-affirming health care for trans minors and a raft of bills By banning trans school children from participating in sports on teams that match their gender identity, it seems evident that discrimination against trans people has increased dramatically over the past twelve months. Unfortunately, only 39% of Americans agree this is the case according to PRRI, while 12% say discrimination has decreased and 46% perceive the level of discrimination as unchanged.

Again, there are huge gaps in the results for particular partisan and (non) religious demographics. 59% of Democrats say discrimination has increased, for example, compared to 19% of Republicans. Meanwhile, just 22% of white evangelicals say discrimination against trans people has increased in the past year, compared to 46% of the non-religious population, 54% of Hispanic Catholics and 56% of black Protestants.

DR contacted Robert P. Jones, CEO and Founder of PRRI and the author of White Too Long: The Legacy of White Supremacy in American Christianity, for comments on the importance and reasons for these trends. When asked what might lead to increased opposition to trans access to toilets and school sports, Jones replied, “It’s hard to know,” although he pointed out the “dozens. and dozens of [anti-trans] bills presented “as a likely factor, noting that anti-trans politics” has become something of a talking point or rallying cry. ” In her view, this transformed trans rights from “a practical local issue” to an element of the “partisan tribal identity” of Americans.

Jones also pointed to the influence of right-wing media, both Fox News and media to its right, such as Newsmax and One America News Network, as an important factor on the right. “Even if we look among Republicans, we can see the difference between those who trust mainstream news and those who trust Fox or the media to their right.” What the right-wing media ecosystem does is push fear-based narratives representing members of other groups – immigrants, Black Lives Matter supporters, trans people – as threats. So, observes Jones, even though “the greatest war for LGBTQ rights is clearly won,” trans people remain particularly marginalized and vulnerable, which means that for those who push for authoritarian and fear-based politics, they are. “An easier target”.

In this regard, Jones also highlighted the report’s findings on how knowing a trans person makes a significant difference in supporting trans rights. And here there is some encouraging news. In 2011, when PRRI first asked about transgender rights, only one in ten Americans said they knew transgender people. That number has doubled over the past decade to reach one in five Americans.

So it appears that trans visibility helps the trans community secure our rights over time, although it has simultaneously made it easier for trans people to be targeted in the right-wing backlash against LGBTQ rights. When asked why white evangelicals in particular were so overwhelmingly against trans rights, Jones replied, “Anti-gay attitudes have been with the Christian right from the start, so it’s old and in the dark. Political DNA of this movement. ” Indeed, the more the Christian right has become a cohesive movement over the past half-century or so, the more opposition to LGBTQ rights has become “a marker of political identity” for white evangelicals.

Today, trans people are the primary targets of their anti-queer moral panic, but certainly not the only target. “This whole evangelical worldview is built on a set of hierarchies,” Jones said. “And something like the fluidity of gender, the fluidity of sexuality, blows up this binary of men on women.” Most Americans have moved beyond this authoritarian gender policy. Can white evangelicals do the same? Inasmuch as evangelical, I don’t think they can, based on my lived experience as well as my university studies. Time will tell if I’m right or wrong.


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