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Survey shows how Mountain Westerners view policies related to transgender people

A gay pride flag and a transgender pride flag.
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A gay pride flag and a transgender pride flag.

News brief

A recent survey from the Pew Research Center shows Mountain Westerners – like the rest of the country – are largely divided on policies related to people who are transgender.

The researchers asked Americans a variety of questions on gender identity issues. Some were general and others looked at specific policies, like who gets to use what public bathroom or if they support protecting transgender people against discrimination.

Among survey respondents across the eight states that make up the Mountain West, about 67% support policies that protect trans individuals from discrimination in jobs, housing or in public spaces. That's compared to 64% nationwide.

Juliana Horowitz is with Pew Research Center and a researcher on the survey. She said the only other issue people in the Mountain West spoke clearly on was trans athletics. About two-thirds said trans athletes should be made to play on teams that match their sex assigned at birth.

But that’s where the majority opinions stopped, she said, and the views became more complex.

“Even though more Americans say that they know someone who is trans than was the case five years ago, more also say that whether someone’s a man or a woman is determined by sex at birth than was the case five years ago,” Horowitz said.

And this duality was reflected in Mountain Westerners' responses to a variety of other questions.

Though there was no majority, respondents were inclined to say trans people must use public restrooms that match the sex they were assigned at birth, and it should be illegal for healthcare professionals to help people under 18 get medical care for a gender transition. They also tend to oppose requiring health insurance companies to cover medical care for gender transitions.

Views were even more mixed on the question of whether it should be illegal for public school teachers to talk about gender identity in elementary schools, with 47% in favor and 38% opposed. Repondents were similarly split on whether parents who help minors get healthcare for a gender transition should be investigated for child abuse.

This story was produced by the Mountain West News Bureau, a collaboration between Wyoming Public Media, Nevada Public Radio, Boise State Public Radio in Idaho, KUNR in Nevada, the O'Connor Center for the Rocky Mountain West in Montana, KUNC in Colorado, KUNM in New Mexico, with support from affiliate stations across the region. Funding for the Mountain West News Bureau is provided in part by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.
Copyright 2022 KUNM. To see more, visit KUNM.

Emma Gibson