Public Opinion on Transgender Rights: A Twenty-Three Country Survey

For Immediate Release
January 10, 2017

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Noel Alumit, alumit@law.ucla.edu
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Public Opinion on Transgender Rights:  A Twenty-Three Country Survey

Los Angeles – In many countries, a majority of the population supports transgender rights, though some countries remain largely opposed. This report presents findings from a ground-breaking survey of 17,105 adults across 23 countries about their attitudes towards transgender people and rights. Findings are described in the report, entitled Public Support for Transgender Rights: A Twenty-Three Country Survey, authored by Williams Institute researchers Andrew R. Flores, Ph.D., Taylor N. T. Brown, M.P.P, and Andrew S. Park, J.D.

Findings include:

  • Seventy percent of all respondents agree that transgender people should be allowed to have gender-affirming surgery and should be protected from discrimination by the government.  Outside of Asia, the level of support is at least 50 percent in each country.
  • A majority of people in each of the countries surveyed support the right of transgender people to change the sex listed on their identity documents.
  • A majority of respondents from 15 countries agreed that transgender people should be allowed to use the restroom associated with their gender identity.  Respondents from Spain (76.7 percent), Argentina (72.4 percent), and India (71.6 percent) were most supportive.  A majority of respondents in Russia (53.5 percent) disagreed that transgender people should be allowed to use the restroom associated with their gender identity.
  • Women are more supportive of transgender rights than men.
  • Individuals with medium and high levels of education are more supportive of transgender rights than those with low levels of education.

“Personally having family members or friends who are members of a minority group is commonly found to be associated with greater support for minority group rights,” said lead author Andrew R. Flores.  “Previous studies have been mixed on this as it relates to transgender people and rights. Finding that this pattern does indeed exist in these 23 countries confirms that transgender visibility remains a key element in people’s support for such policies.”

Using data on respondents’ opinions on six measures of transgender rights, the authors create a single scale indicating countries’ average level of support for transgender rights. Spain, Sweden, and Argentina top this list while Poland, South Korea, and Russia are at the bottom. The United States is ranked ninth of the 23 countries studied.

The survey was a joint project between the Williams Institute, Buzzfeed Media, and IPSOS, one of the world’s largest public opinion research firms.

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The Williams Institute, a think tank on sexual orientation and gender identity law and public policy, is dedicated to conducting rigorous, independent research with real-world relevance.

Read the report.