Jun 8, 2023 - Politics & Policy

Majority of Latino Catholics and evangelicals say there are only 2 genders

Data: PRRI, Gender and Politics Survey, 2023; Chart: Axios Visuals

A majority of Hispanic Catholics and Protestants in a new survey say they believe there are only two genders, but the percentage isn't as high as it is among white evangelicals.

Why it matters: Many Americans have in recent years embraced the idea that gender identity is complex and not necessarily a binary. But the conservative backlash against LGBTQ+ communities, including legislation in many red states limiting their rights, might be influencing religious Americans' perspectives, experts say.

By the numbers: The share of religious Americans who said there are only two gender identities increased from just under 6 in 10 (59%) in 2021 to nearly two-thirds (65%) in 2023, according to a new nonpartisan Public Religion Research Institute survey on gender and politics.

  • The percentage of Hispanic Catholics who say there are only two gender identities jumped from 48% in 2021 to 66% in 2023.
  • Hispanic Protestants — a vast majority of whom identify as evangelical — reported a smaller increase: 79% in 2021 and 81% in 2023.
  • More than 90% of white evangelicals say there are only two genders.
  • Only 44% of Jewish Americans agreed.

Zoom out: Many faith communities are welcoming of transgender and nonbinary people, says Jamie Bruesehoff, author of "Raising Kids Beyond the Binary: Celebrating God's Transgender and Gender-Diverse Children."

  • Bruesehoff is the parent a transgender teenager and is married to a Lutheran pastor in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA). Bruesehoff is also a seminary school graduate.
  • “While we still have to work to do as we advocate for the full inclusion of and justice for transgender and nonbinary people, we are just one example of many faith traditions that see the image of God in the diversity of humanity,” Bruesehoff tells Axios via email.

Of note: The survey did not include views from Latinos who are unaffiliated with a religion because of the small sample size. They are among the fastest-growing demographic in religion.

State of play: Conservatives on social media, including Elon Musk, have increasingly mocked transgender and nonbinary people for their use of pronouns, even though it's become a mainstay for many in corporate America to include their pronouns in email signatures and online bios.

  • Several GOP-led state legislatures have passed measures targeting transgender people, including limiting the use of bathrooms to genders assigned at birth.

What they're saying: PRRI CEO Melissa Deckman points to the fact that Latino Catholics tend to be slightly younger than the general population as one reason for the lower percentage of them who say there are only two genders. Younger people tend to be more open-minded on social issues.

  • Still, Deckman says she believes misinformation online and the slew of anti-transgender bills may have led to many religious Americans hardening their views on gender identity.

Orlando Gonzales, executive director of Safeguarding American Values for Everyone (SAVE), an LGBTQ advocacy organization in South Florida, agrees that anti-LGBTQ+ rhetoric is impacting some people's view of gender identity.

  • He tells Axios Latino that misinformation about nonbinary, gender non-conforming and transgender people runs rampant because of that rhetoric.
  • "Gender-affirming care can help alleviate stress related to gender identity through therapy for issues like suicidal thoughts, depression and anxiety. Harmful legislation has made obtaining such care much more difficult, exacerbating mental health issues and deaths within this community," Gonzales adds.
  • A 2023 national survey by the Trevor Project found that transgender and nonbinary youth reported higher rates of poor mental health and suicide risk compared to their cisgender lesbian, gay, bisexual and queer peers.
  • For example, 50% of transgender and nonbinary respondents had seriously considered suicide, compared to 29% of cisgender LGBQ youth.

Methodology: The 2023 PRRI Gender and Politics Survey was conducted online between March 9-23. The poll is based on a representative sample of 5,046 adults (age 18 and older) living in all 50 states who are part of Ipsos' Knowledge Panel®.

  • The margin of sampling error is +/- 1.5 percentage points at the 95% confidence level, for results based on the entire sample.

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