More U.S. adults than ever say they know someone who’s transgender or who uses gender-neutral pronouns, according to a new Pew Research Center survey, yet acceptance of trans people remains static and divided among partisan lines.
Forty-two percent of survey respondents said they personally know someone who’s trans, up five percentage points from 2017, says the Pew Research report, released Tuesday. Twenty-six percent said they’re acquainted with a person who prefers gender-neutral pronouns, such as “they,” up from 18 percent when the question was last asked in 2018.
But the dial hasn’t moved on acceptance. Fifty-six percent of respondents said a person’s gender is what they were assigned when born, while 41 percent said gender can differ from the sex assigned at birth. Those percentages “are roughly unchanged since 2017,” the report says.
“Half of Americans say they would feel very or somewhat comfortable using a gender-neutral pronoun to refer to someone if they were asked to do so, while 48% say they would feel very or somewhat uncomfortable doing so,” Pew adds. “These numbers are virtually unchanged since 2018.”
“Younger adults, Democrats and those with more education are generally more likely to report knowing a transgender person or someone who uses gender-neutral pronouns,” the report continues.
Democrats are much more likely to say a person’s gender can differ from what they were assigned at birth — 63 percent of Democrats versus 17 percent of Republicans. Those figures are about the same as four years ago.
Similarly, about two-thirds of Democrats said they would be somewhat or very comfortable using gender-neutral pronouns for another person, but about two-thirds of Republicans said they’d be somewhat or very uncomfortable.
Acceptance overall was somewhat higher among those who know a trans person and among young people and the highly educated.
The survey comes after four years of Donald Trump, as president, taking anti-transgender actions, and he has continued to demonize trans people even after leaving office. So have other conservative politicians at the federal, state, and local levels, with many states considering or passing laws keeping trans youth out of school sports or denying them gender-affirming health care.
The Pew report is based on a survey of 10,606 U.S. adults conducted June 14-27. The data was collected as a part of a larger survey, and everyone who participated is a member of Pew’s American Trends Panel, an online survey panel recruited through national, random sampling of residential addresses. The methodology assures that nearly all U.S. adults have a chance of selection, and the survey is weighted to be representative of the population by gender, race, ethnicity, partisan affiliation, education, and other factors.