Poll: Most in US oppose transgender athletes in women’s sports

U.S.

ATLANTA, GEORGIA – MARCH 17: Lia Thomas swims to victory in the 500 Yard Freestyle during the 2022 NCAA Division I Women’s Swimming & Diving Championship at the McAuley Aquatic Center on the campus of the Georgia Institute of Technology on March 17, 2022 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Mike Comer/NCAA Photos via Getty Images)

(NewsNation) — Most Americans are opposed to transgender female athletes competing in women’s sports at the professional, collegiate and high school levels, according to a new Washington Post-University of Maryland poll released this week.

But there’s a chance you haven’t heard about this survey. That’s because 80% percent of news outlets that reported on this issue lean right, according to NewsNation’s partner Ground News, which monitors coverage based on media bias. Only a few “center” outlets and even fewer left-leaning media outlets have reported on the poll, according to Ground News’ Blindspot report.

The majority of survey respondents, 58%, said transgender female athletes should not be allowed to compete with women at the professional and collegiate level. By comparison, only 28% of people thought transgender women should be allowed to compete with biological women at those levels — and 15% of those surveyed said they had no opinion.

Opposition drops slightly when considering high school athletics, where 55% of respondents said transgender women should not be allowed to compete with women. Even fewer, 49%, thought the ban should apply at the youth level.

But an overwhelming majority of those surveyed, nearly 70%, said transgender girls would have a competitive advantage over other girls if they were allowed to compete in youth sports.

The debate around trans athletes and eligibility has become a hot-button issue for policymakers in recent years.

In March, University of Pennsylvania’s Lia Thomas became the first transgender woman to win an NCAA swimming championship. Thomas, who swam her first three seasons on the men’s team before transitioning, was allowed to compete against women under NCAA rules.

The inclusion of the swimmer generated controversy among many who argued that she had an unfair physical advantage, including some of her own teammates.

Now, state legislatures across the country are passing bills blocking transgender students from participating in sports that align with their gender identity. Last week, Louisiana became the 18th state to do so.

Those in favor of the bans argue that transgender women have physical advantages due to biological factors like higher levels of testosterone and greater muscle mass, on average.

Others, who are opposed to the bans, say concerns about transgender athletes taking over women’s sports are overblown. They argue that trans athletes should be allowed to compete with the gender they identify as and that not allowing them to do so could further stigmatize trans people who are at greater risk of mental health issues.

Despite the fact most Americans oppose transgender women competing in women’s sports, the survey found that overall support for transgender people has risen.

Among respondents, 40% said that greater social acceptance of transgender people is good for society, compared to 25% who said it was bad — 35% said its neither good nor bad for society.

The poll was conducted online between May 4 and 17, 2022 among a random national sample of 1,503 adults.

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