Only about three in ten U.S. adults believe transgenders should be allowed to compete in female sports at the professional, college, high school, or youth levels, according to a new poll from the Washington Post-University of Maryland.
The survey results released on June 14 show that 68 percent of Americans worry that transgender athletes would “have a competitive advantage” over biological women. Nearly 60 percent opposed transgender participation in college and professional female sports. For high schools, 55 percent opposed transgender participation in female sports compared to 30 percent who reckoned they should.
The divide narrowed when it came to youth sports, with about a third saying transgenders should be allowed to compete, versus 49 percent against such an opinion, citing biological physical advantages.
As to whether they were concerned that not allowing transgender youths to compete in their preferred sport would cast a shadow on the “mental health of transgender girls,” a narrow majority—52 percent—said they were “very” or “somewhat” concerned, while the rest said they were “not too” or “not at all” concerned.
The poll, conducted from May 4 to May 17 with 1,503 adults nationwide, had a margin of error of plus or minus 3 percentage points.
The release comes a week after Louisiana became the 18th state to pass a ban on transgenders competing in female sports, which will require K–12 schools and universities to “designate intercollegiate and interscholastic athletic teams according to the biological sex of the team members” recorded at birth.
States including Arizona, Kentucky, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, South Dakota, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Utah, have passed similar laws this year, barring transgender athletes from competing in school sports that don’t align with their biological sex. Proponents asserted that the physical advantage transgender females have unfairly went beyond that of biologically female athletes, given gender traits such as testosterone production.
The debate surrounding transgender sportspeople competing in women’s events due to biological advantages again came to the spotlight over the past months when University of Pennsylvania swimmer Lia Thomas became the first known transgender athlete to win a women’s NCAA championship on March 17.
Thomas, who is said to have lost muscle after taking estrogen and testosterone blockers and was ranked 462nd in men’s swimming, set multiple records in women’s meets following the medical transition. The transgender athlete beat the runner up biological female swimmer in the Women’s 500-yard freestyle finals at the Ivy League Championships by a full 7.5 seconds, or half a pool’s length‚ smashing a decade-long women’s record.
500 free final @IvyLeague championships: Lia Thomas, formerly of the @PennSwimDive men’s team, won by over 7 seconds. You can hardly see the other women swimming at the far end of the pool by the time the race is over. For the women, “it was a race for second place.” pic.twitter.com/3ItZnsGMtR
— Emily Kreps (@ekreps) February 18, 2022
Cynthia Millen, a then USA Swimming official, chose to resign back in December in protest of Thomas’s participation in women’s competitions.
Although less than two percent of U.S. adults identify as transgender or nonbinary, according to a recent survey from the Pew Research Center, a growing share of more than 40 percent of Americans say they know someone who is trans.