Even most Republican voters think the GOP is attacking transgender kids too much

Transgender flag being waved in a crowd
Photo: Shutterstock

A new poll found that a majority of Democratic, independent, and even Republican likely voters believe that there is “too much legislation” aimed at reducing LGBTQ+ rights at the state level.

The progressive polling firm and think tank Data for Progress conducted a survey of 1220 participants and asked about the 429 bills presented at state legislatures attacking LGBTQ+ rights. Most of the bills are aimed at transgender youth, and 17 have already become law this year.

72% of Democratic voters agreed with the statement that there is “too much legislation. Politicians are playing political theater and using these bills as a wedge issue,” and only 20% agreed that it’s “the right amount of legislation. Politicians are dealing with a real danger that needs to be addressed.” 65% of independent voters agreed that there is too much anti-LGBTQ+ legislation this year.

The more surprising result – considering how the vast majority of lawmakers voting for these bills are Republicans – was that 55% of Republican voters agreed that there is too much anti-LGBTQ+ legislation. Only 33% said that there is the “right amount” of such bills.

Chart from Data for Progress showing percentages of people who believe that there is too much or just enough anti-LGBTQ legislation

The survey also asked if people believed that being transgender is a “natural phenomenon that has occurred throughout history” that’s “normal” or if they believed that being trans is a “new phenomenon created by our modern woke culture” that will “harm our children.” Most Democrats (78%) and most independents (58%) agreed that being trans is natural. Only 34% of Republicans agreed that being trans is natural, while a majority (55%) said that it’s a new phenomenon.

Chart from Data for Progress showing percentages of people who believe that being trans is natural or not

While Republicans lag on that issue, Data for Progress noted that a majority of all likely voters (57%) said that being trans is natural, which could indicate that attacks on trans youth might not be the potent electoral winner that many Republican strategists believe it is.

While state Republican lawmakers have been introducing anti-transgender legislation for over a decade, there was an explosion of such legislation in 2021, just several weeks after Donald Trump’s loss in the general election. Democrats accused Republicans – many of whom had never shown any concern for the state of girls’ and women’s sports – of using transgender kids to distract from the GOP’s less popular positions on the COVID-19 pandemic and the economy.

Part of the reason that such a strategy could work is that transgender people make up a small percentage of the population and many people don’t think they know anyone who is transgender. Only 36% of Democrats, 39% of independents, and 25% of Republicans said that they know someone who is trans or nonbinary, and a majority of each group said that they didn’t.

Chart from Data for Progress showing percentages of people who know someone who is trans or nonbinary

And knowing a trans or nonbinary person decreases the chance that someone will see them as a threat. Among likely voters who know someone trans or nonbinary, 78% said that trans people are not a threat to straight families and 66% said that they’re not a threat to children. Among people who don’t know anyone who is trans, though, those numbers dropped to 52% and 41%, respectively.

Chart from Data for Progress showing percentages of people who believe that trans people are a threat to straight families or children

Most Democratic voters (54%) and independent voters (63%) believe that Democratic elected officials should be doing more to fight anti-LGBTQ+ legislation. The survey didn’t ask what they believe Democrats should be doing.

When it comes to drag bans, a majority of Democrats (68%) and independents (55%) said that they had seen a drag performance either live or on TV. 53% of Republicans, though, said that they have never seen a drag performance at all.

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