Transgender people are one of the most marginalized communities in the United States. They face disproportionate rates of suicide, violence, unemployment, poverty, and discrimination. Oh, and the majority of evangelicals still think their mere existence is “immoral.”
Compared to evangelicals, significantly fewer Catholics (29%), those of non-Christian faiths (41%), or the nonreligious (21%) believe it’s wrong to alter gender by medical means.
Excluding evangelical believers, three-quarters of Americans cite no moral qualms about changing gender identification.
Never mind that it isn’t anybody’s business how trans people identify or what they do to their bodies. As it turns out, the majority of Americans don’t attach a strong moral component to their gender identity. This is a point of alarm for LifeWay Research executive director Scott McConnell, but to the rest of the world, it’s not really a big deal:
“A majority of Americans reject the view of a creator giving them a gender that shouldn’t be changed,” he said. “We freely change many things about ourselves — we have cosmetic surgery, we use teeth whitener, we dye our hair, we get tattoos. Many Americans view gender as one more thing on that list.”
Americans are even less concerned about identifying with a different gender.
While more than half of evangelical believers (54%) said it’s wrong to identify with a different gender, just 35 percent of Americans share that view.
Not surprisingly, a breakdown across religious beliefs shows that non-religious Americans were the least likely to think it’s wrong to be transgender — only 20% feel that way, compared with 26% of Catholics and 35% of non-Christian faiths. (That might be a questionable way of grouping responses, but what do you expect?) And overall, some Americans just don’t think being trans has anything to do with morality:
More than 1 in 10 Americans said identifying with a different gender isn’t a matter of morality at all (14%), and almost as many (11%) said it isn’t a moral issue to alter one’s gender through hormones or surgery.
“This reflects a changing worldview,” McConnell said. “A growing percentage of Americans don’t believe in right and wrong. They don’t believe there’s absolute truth — and if there’s no absolute truth, then they’re reluctant to talk about morality.”
As always, personally knowing a transgender person makes someone much less likely to find trans people immoral. 39% of those who don’t know a trans person think it’s wrong to be trans; only 25% of people who do know a trans person think so.
And wouldn’t you know it:
Evangelicals are less likely than others to know a transgender person (20%) and more likely to have moral objections.
Young adults (18- to 24-year-olds) are most likely to report knowing a transgender person and less likely than others to consider gender change immoral. In that age group, 41 percent have a transgender acquaintance, and 31 percent said it’s wrong to alter gender through surgery or hormones.
Again, we shouldn’t read too much into this; this is an evangelical firm that is outright asking respondents whether another person’s life is immoral. Nonetheless, there aren’t too many surprises here: evangelicals still mostly disagree with transgender people’s right to exist, and everyone else is moving along fine.
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