NEWS from the
Human Rights Campaign
919 18th Street, NW, Suite 800
Washington, DC 20006
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Monday, Sept. 30, 2002
Contact: David M. Smith
Phone: (202) 216-1547
Cell: (202) 251-1447
Contact: Wayne Besen
Phone: (202) 216-1580
Cell: (202) 256-4421
HRC RELEASES GROUND-BREAKING PUBLIC OPINION RESEARCH
ON TRANSGENDER ISSUES
Public is Broadly Aware of Transgender Americans, But Much
Education Is Needed, Says HRC
WASHINGTON - The Human Rights Campaign announced today the
findings of a
landmark HRC-commissioned poll conducted by the firm Lake Snell Perry &
Associates Inc., that focuses on public perception of transgender issues.
The poll shows that while most people accept that a person can be
transgender, more education is needed to help people better understand the
lives of transgender Americans, says HRC.
"The data shows that most people want to treat transgender
fairly and protect them from workplace discrimination and hate crimes," said
HRC Communications Director and Senior Strategist David M. Smith. "Still,
the majority of Americans report being uncomfortable about transgender
issues, especially when confronted with the challenges that transgender
Seventy percent of Americans have heard the word transgender
majority have, on some level, contemplated the issue.
"The concept of transgender is something that the public
is aware of, if not
focused on," said Celinda Lake, of the polling firm Lake Snell Perry &
Associates Inc. "Most people accept that it is possible for a person to be
'born as one sex but inside feel like the other sex.' However, many are
confused about what transgender means, and which people would be considered
All voters overwhelmingly favor transgender students attending
schools, according to the poll results. Additionally, despite differences
between sympathizers and opponents, there is a strong general consensus that
no one should be subjected to violence and discrimination because of who
they are. There are, however, differences between the two points of view on
how to address these issues.
The poll found that sympathizers who believe in transgender
transgender-specific laws and opponents prefer using what they erroneously
believe to be existing laws to protect transgender people. However, the fact
remains that there are very few jurisdictions in this nation that prohibit
discrimination against transgender Americans, says HRC.
Additionally, the poll found a very critical correlation between
public sees being transgender as a moral issue and whether they think people
have a choice about being transgender.
"Three-quarters of those who say being transgender is
a choice, also see
it as a moral issue," said Lake, "while two-thirds who do not see it as a
moral issue say people are born transgender."
Despite some negative segments of the population, much of the
expresses interest and concern for transgender people. The majority of
respondents disagree with statements that say, "I do not care about
transgender people," "I don't want to hear about transgender people," "There
is no reason to worry about such a small minority," or "Transgender people
get what they deserve." Conversely, the majority favors laws to protect
transgender people's rights. Transgender individuals also face the same
problem as gay and lesbian Americans, in that a great number of people
believe that the law already protects these groups.
"The data clearly suggests that a strategic, step-by-step
campaign that focuses on broadly supported issues - such as hate crimes and
discrimination protection -- are the best place to start on the road toward
equality," said HRC's Smith.
Among other findings:
* 61 percent believe the country needs laws to protect
people from discrimination.
* 57 percent incorrectly believe that it is not legal
to fire a person
just because they are transgender.
* 67 percent agree that it is possible for a person to
be born as one
sex, but inside feel like another sex.
* 53 percent believe it is "all right" for
a person to be transgender,
while 37 percent believe that it is wrong.
* 77 percent of people believe that transgender students
allowed to attend public schools.
* 48 percent of Americans would have "no problem"
working with a
transgender person, while only 8 percent claim they "would not" be willing
The Human Rights Campaign is the largest national lesbian and
political organization, with members throughout the country. It effectively
lobbies Congress, provides campaign support and educates the public to
ensure that lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Americans can be open,
honest and safe at home, at work and in the community.
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