A majority of Americans oppose transgender athletes participating in female sports, according to a new Washington Post-University of Maryland poll.
The survey found that 55% of Americans are opposed to allowing transgender women and girls to compete with biological women and girls in high school sports, while 58% are opposed to allowing it for college and professional sports.
About 30% of Americans said transgender women and girls should be allowed to compete at each of those levels, while 15% have no opinion.
With youth sports, 49% are opposed to transgender girls competing against biological girls, 33% are in favor of allowing it, and 17% have no opinion.
The poll was taken as the issue of transgender athletes in female sports has become a hot political topic and an increasing number of younger Americans identify as transgender.
According to The Washington Post, Louisiana joined at least 17 other states last week in prohibiting transgender women and girls from competing on female sports teams. Led by Republican lawmakers, a large amount of the legislation across the country has been passed in the past year.
The Louisiana ban became law after the state’s governor, a Democrat, failed to sign the measure or veto it, the Post reports. The new law applies to all public and some private elementary and secondary schools and colleges.
Critics say transgender female athletes possess an unfair physical advantage against biological females because of factors such as generally having greater muscle mass, a larger physical frame, and bone density and testosterone levels, which can help increase athletic performance.
Proponents of transgender athletes in women’s and girls sports say competition bans deny them the opportunity to compete in the category that aligns with their gender identity, and may potentially trigger mental health problems.
More than half — 68% — of Americans say that transgender girls would have an advantage over biological girls if allowed to compete with them in youth sports, according to the poll. Just 30% say neither would have a competitive edge, and 2% say biological girls would have an advantage.
The 40% of people who say they know someone who is transgender mirrors the 42% of Americans who said they knew someone who is gay or lesbian in a 1992 CBS News-New York Times poll. In a 2010 CBS News poll, that figure increased to 77%.
The Washington Post-University of Maryland poll was conducted online May 4-17 and surveyed a random national sample of 1,503 adults. It has a margin of error of plus or minus 3 percentage points.
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