A spate of recent legislation in Republican-controlled states has brought the topic of transgender sports competition to the forefront of the national conversation.
Now, a new poll conducted by The Washington Post and University of Maryland found the majority of Americans, 55 percent, are opposed to allowing transgender female athletes to compete with other women and girls in high school sports. A higher proportion, 58 percent, reported the same opinion at the college and professional sports levels.
A total of 1,503 adults completed the poll between May 4 and 17, 2022, representing a random sample of U.S. households. The majority of individuals surveyed identified themselves as sports fans and were parents.
While 15 percent of respondents had no opinion on the matter, around 30 percent of Americans agree transgender women and girl athletes should be able to compete at any sporting level.
When it comes to youth sports, differences in opinion were slightly less pronounced, with 49 percent of those surveyed opposed to transgender athletes’ participation, 33 percent in favor, and 17 percent reporting no opinion.
Nearly 70 percent of respondents said they believed transgender girls would have a competitive advantage over other girls, with 30 percent reporting neither group would have an advantage.
However, a slim majority of those surveyed did say they were concerned with transgender athletes’ mental health in the event they were not allowed to participate in youth sports.
The notion of supporting transgender people along their journey yet having reservations when it comes to athletic competition is common, said Mark Hyman, director of UMD’s Shirley Povich Center for Sports Journalism which also helped conduct the poll.
“People increasingly have an awareness of the issue and are empathetic toward the journey that transgender people are on, but the notion that they are competing against athletes that are born a particular sex are lagging behind that,” Hyman told The Washington Post.
According to new data released this month by the UCLA Williams Institute, 43 percent of those who identify as transgender in the U.S. are teens and young adults.
Previous research has also showed those who have a transgender family member or friend are more likely to support greater acceptance of the transgender community and feel this is good for society.
This sentiment is sharply split along party lines as 64 percent of Democrats feel greater social acceptance of transgender individuals is good for society compared with just 14 percent of Republicans.