Few political issues today seem as divisive as the religious freedom–LGBT rights dichotomy, especially when it comes to transgender bathrooms. But a new poll showed that a vast majority of Americans think that the rights of those who identify as transgender or gender fluid are completely compatible with the religious freedom of others. The poll also found surprising agreement against the idea that transgender people can use whatever facilities they choose.
When asked if it is possible to “have laws which protect both the rights of people who are transgender and gender fluid and the rights of people to follow their religious beliefs,” almost three-quarters (74 percent) of Americans said yes, while only 18 percent said laws must choose to protect the rights of one group over the other.
The poll, sponsored by the Roman Catholic news organization Crux and carried out by the Marist Poll, also found that 80 percent of Americans say doctors or healthcare professionals with a religious objection to sex-change operations should be able to opt out of providing those services. Sixty-two percent said employers who object to sex-change operations should be able to opt out of covering these medical procedures.
Even on the touchy subject of transgender access to bathrooms and changing rooms, most Americans proved surprisingly united. A full 56 percent disagreed with the statement, “Someone who is transitioning to become the opposite sex should be legally allowed to use whichever bathroom they want to.” Only 38 percent of Americans agreed (56 percent of Democrats and 16 percent of Republicans).
On the question of whether transgender people “should be legally allowed to use whichever public or school showers or locker rooms they want to,” two-thirds of Americans (66 percent) disagreed, while only roughly a quarter (27 percent) agreed. Not even a majority of Democrats (47 percent) agreed that transgender people should be able to use the shower and locker rooms of their choice.
Democrats tended to side with transgender issues more than Republicans, but even 73 percent of Democrats agreed that doctors and health care professionals should be able to opt out of sex-change surgery, and more Democrats (86 percent) than Republicans (62 percent) said that transgender rights and religious freedom are compatible. Interestingly, Democrats disagreed with an employer’s right to opt out of providing sex-change coverage (55 percent).
Republicans predictably fell on the other side of the issue. A whopping 85 percent said transgenders should not have the legal right to choose whatever showers and locker rooms they want, and 81 percent said the same about restrooms. Seventy-eight percent said employers should be able to opt out of providing sex-change coverage, and 90 percent said the same about doctors.
The Crux/Marist poll surveyed 453 adults between December 12 and December 13, 2016. It has a margin of error of 4.2 percentage points.
In reporting the poll, Crux quoted Pope Francis, who lamented, “Today, schools are teaching children — children! — that everyone can choose their own sex. And why is this being taught? Because their textbooks are chosen by the people and institutions that give money.”
The pope denounced this as “ideological colonization, promoted by very influential nations. This is terrible.” Indeed, in October of last year, Francis attacked transgender ideology as a “global war against the family.”
A majority of Americans agree that those who religiously object to transgenderism should be able to do so, and that changing one’s gender does not entitle someone to the sex-segregated facilities of others.
The transgender issue is tricky, but Americans seem confident that it is possible to balance the rights of those who identify with the opposite sex with the religious freedom of those who disagree on principle. I, for one, hope they’re right.