Jun 12, 2023 - Sports

Survey: Americans now less supportive of trans athletes playing on team of choice

Transgender rights advocates stood outside of the Ohio Statehouse to oppose an amendment to a bill that would ban transgender women from participating in high school and college women sports. (Photo by Stephen Zenner/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)

Americans are now less supportive of transgender athletes playing on the team of their choice than they were two years ago, a national survey found.

Driving the news: 69% of Americans said transgender athletes should only be allowed to compete on sports teams that conform with their birth gender, per Gallup’s annual Values and Beliefs poll conducted in May, compared to 62% in 2021.

  • Similarly, fewer people (26%) endorse transgender athletes being allowed to play on teams that match their current gender identity, down from 34%.
Photo: Gallup

The big picture: The debate regarding trans athletes' participation in sports is largely viewed around competitive fairness rather than transgender civil rights, per Gallup.

  • Most of the objections are centered on the belief by some that trans women retain an unfair advantage even after taking hormones to lower their testosterone, though the science on that is inconclusive, Axios' Ina Fried reports.

Yes, but: Sports represent just a fraction of the anti-trans legislation introduced so far this year.

  • There have already been 556 bills introduced across the country – more than in the last five years combined, per Bloomberg.

Meanwhile, the Department of Education proposed a change to Title IX rules in April that would, in certain instances, allow schools to bar trans athletes from participating on teams that align with their gender identity — but prohibit the issuance of a blanket ban.

More people now say they know someone who is transgender, according to the Gallup survey.

  • 39% of Americans say someone they know personally has told them they are transgender – up from 31% in 2021.

But, but, but: Both Americans who know and do not know a transgender individual have become less supportive of allowing transgender athletes to play on the team of their choice, the poll found.

  • 30% of those who know a transgender person favor allowing athletes to play on teams that match their current gender identity, down from 40% in 2021.
  • Among those who do not know a transgender person, support is now 23%, down from 31%.
Photo: Gallup

Methodology: Results for this Gallup poll are based on telephone interviews conducted May 1-24, 2023, with a random sample of 1,011 adults, aged 18 and older, living in all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia. For results based on the total sample of national adults, the margin of sampling error is ±4 percentage points at the 95% confidence level. All reported margins of sampling error include computed design effects for weighting.

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