Or at least, it’s highly likely that you aren’t. That’s according to the latest survey of UK people’s attitudes to trans people. While there’s clear evidence that three years of anti-trans scaremongering have had an effect, there’s also clear evidence that the scaremongers do not reflect wider public opinion.
When the public is asked to choose words that describe their feelings towards trans people, we see a really striking picture.
Overall, positive feelings dominate, particularly for women – half of us feel ‘respect’ and more than a quarter ‘admiration’ for trans people. We can also see that women are much more likely to feel respect and admiration for trans people, while also being less likely to feel disgust, pity, fear or resentment. This is important to bear in mind, as it undermines the common narrative which seeks to turns cis women and trans women against each other.
But alongside these positive feelings, quite a lot of us aren’t sure and that’s OK. Some of these people may not be comfortable expressing negative feelings, many of these people are likely to be those who genuinely don’t know how they feel, or simply see trans people as … people.
However, the people who hate us really hate us.
Very few people indeed selected negative feelings such as disgust, fear or resentment. But when we look at the views of the minority who describe themselves as prejudiced (16% of us), this transphobic minority feels very strongly: a third said they felt disgust (33%) and one-quarter said that they felt resentment (25%). This means that while the group of people who are transphobic, and would describe themselves as such isn’t large – 16% is in line with other forms of discriminatory attitudes to oppressed groups – the views of that minority are much stronger.
Those are the views most often platformed by UK newspapers, current affairs magazines and broadcasters, and they are the views most commonly expressed on social media.
The British public in general, and British women in particular, feel pretty positive about trans people. If our media coverage and social media discussions simply reflected this reality, the lives of trans people would be immeasurably improved overnight. Instead of this, the drip, drip of negative and distorted media coverage may be manufacturing a creeping sense of discomfort around shared spaces.
…[the survey] shows that we have a small, but vocal group of people with extreme anti-trans views in Britain, and that should worry us all.
If the majority of us simply sit by while the transphobic minority shout their harmful views from the rooftops, our warm feelings mean nothing, and we are part of a problem that is ruining trans folks lives.
Please, don’t be part of the problem.