I’m going to resist the temptation to make too many obvious jokes about The Pope’s latest damnation of trans people; you can come up with your own variations of “…says a man in a dress who thinks his boss lives in the sky”, I’m sure.
I’d rather talk about yet another survey that shows growing support of LGBT rights and trans rights specifically. The survey, by a non-partisan research organisation, found that 47% of US republicans, 61% of independents and 3/4 of Democrats were more supportive of transgender rights than they were five years ago. That works out as six out of ten.
Nearly 70% of Catholics reported becoming more supportive of transgender rights over the last five years, versus 60% of nonwhite Protestants and 52% of white evangelical Protestants, the findings published Tuesday say.
The study isn’t a surprise. Again and again we’ve seen large scale surveys demonstrate rising support for LGBT rights generally and trans rights specifically, even among groups such as white evangelical Protestants.
That’s at odds with public reporting of such issues, which overwhelmingly centres the views of anti-trans individuals and organisations. Of course such people exist, but they’re not representative of the wider public. And the more the wider public actually gets to know trans people, the less representative the extremists’ views become.
Just like racism and homophobia, transphobia thrives on fear and ignorance. The more of us come out, the harder it becomes for the bigots to make you fear us. That’s why support is rising in tandem with increasing visibility. It’s easy to hate bogeymen. It’s harder to hate the people you life with, work with, socialise with.
TIME quotes Robert P. Jones, the CEO of the Public Religion Research Institute:
“Increase in support for transgender rights tracks fairly closely with the large increase in support for gay, lesbian and bisexual Americans,” he tells TIME. Jones also says the number of Americans who report having a close friend or family member who is transgender has doubled since 2015, and that “having a close relationship with someone transgender is strongly correlated with holding more supportive views of transgender rights.”
Unfortunately the downside of this is that the more supportive the world becomes, the more vicious the zealots’ response. The media climate today is much more vicious towards trans people than it was five years ago, even though the world is much more accepting.
This is where you can make a difference. You can choose not to pay for publications that pick on trans people, or to entertain chat from people whose knowledge of trans people comes solely from those publications. You can donate to charities such as LGBT Youth Scotland, who try to help trans and gender non-conforming kids in an increasingly hateful media climate.
Most of all, you can refuse to be silent when you encounter misinformation, prejudice and ignorance. We can’t change the climate without you.