Americans Understand and Support Transgender People More than Previously Thought


The Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI) released a report today concerning Americans’ understanding of transgender people entitled “Strong Majorities of Americans Favor Rights and Legal Protections for Transgender People.” It is often assumed that most Americans are not familiar with transgender people, but these survey results showed a surprising level of understanding and familiarity with transgender people.

In order to determine whether Americans understood what it means to be transgender, PRRI conducted a follow-up survey in September 2011 that asked respondents to report what the term transgender meant to them in their own words.  Among the 91% of Americans who report that they have heard of the term transgender, 76% give an essentially accurate definition. Thus, overall, more than two-thirds (69%) of Americans are able to identify what transgender means without any assistance. Additionally, over 1-in-10 of the respondents said that they have a close friend or family member who is transgender.

This understanding of transgender people translated into support. When asked if transgender people should have the same protections as other Americans, over 90% of respondents agreed, including strong majorities of all religious and partisan groups. When asked if the same legal protections that apply to gay and lesbian people should be applied to transgender people, 81% of respondents agreed. When it comes to transgender-inclusive legislation, about 75% of the respondents said that Congress should pass laws to protect transgender people from job discrimination.

GLAAD is thrilled at the results of this study. For several weeks, GLAAD was involved with a campaign to help support Chaz Bono’s appearance on Dancing with the Stars. His participation on the show has brought the story of a transgender person into millions of Americans’ homes. Additionally, transgender spokespeople like Laverne Cox have gone a long way in helping to educate Americans about transgender people. GLAAD hopes that this report will support securing protections for transgender people and their families.