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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, January 13, 2017 - Volume 45 Issue 02
Spain is the most Trans-friendly country, new survey shows
Section One
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Spain is the most Trans-friendly country, new survey shows

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

Spain is the most Trans-friendly country in the world, according to a new survey conducted by BuzzFeed News, Ipsos polling, and the Williams Institute at UCLA Law School.

The United States came tenth on the list, surprisingly behind India but well ahead of Poland, Hungary, and Russia.

Rankings were based on how respondents answered six questions covering a range of issues, including access to bathrooms, sex-reassignment surgery, and protection from discrimination.

The researchers conducted online surveys in 16 countries with widespread Internet access, plus an additional six countries with somewhat lower Internet penetration. In those countries, they cautioned, 'the results provide a clue about what people think but might not be broadly representative of public opinion.'

In India, they commissioned surveyors to conduct in-person interviews because of the country's low Internet penetration. Ipsos considers the results of these surveys to be accurate within a window of 3.1 to 4.5 percentage points, depending on the size of the sample in each country.

Because the word 'Transgender' and equivalents in other languages are not widely known in many countries, respondents were asked about their attitudes toward people 'who dress and live as one sex even though they were born another.'

Researchers say they 'used the word 'sex' rather than 'gender' throughout the survey, because many people don't understand the difference and because many languages don't distinguish between the two.'

In nearly every country surveyed, less than half of the respondents said they believe that individuals should be able to self-determine their own legal gender designation.

Spain was the only country where a majority of the respondents supported allowing people to change their legal gender designation without restriction. In Argentina - where people are entitled by law to do so - only 48% of the sample agreed with the idea.

In the United States, 23% agreed that people should be allowed to change their gender designation without restrictions, while 24% said sex changes should not be allowed under any circumstances.

That finding means that respondents in the US are the most opposed to sex reassignment of any country surveyed - even slightly more opposed than Russian respondents.

In most countries, a substantial portion of respondents said people who want to change their legal gender should first be required to have sex-reassignment surgery or get permission from an official, such as a judge or doctor.

While respondents in almost all countries wanted to put some restrictions on changing gender designations, majorities in most countries had no problem with Transgender people using the bathrooms that match their gender identity.

Majorities in two-thirds of the countries surveyed said Trans people should be 'allowed to use the restroom of the sex they identify with.'

Support was over 70% in Spain, Argentina, and India. Also showing majority support for restroom access were some countries that score toward the bottom on other measures of support for Transgender rights, including Turkey and Peru.

In the United States - where bathroom access has become the primary battleground over Transgender rights - just 47% said Transgender people should be 'allowed to use the restroom of the sex they identify with.' Other countries where less than half of respondents supported bathroom choice include Brazil, Japan, and Russia.

On the other hand, 71% of US respondents agreed that Transgender people 'should be protected from discrimination by the government.' In Spain, 87% of respondents also agreed with that proposition. Even in Turkey some 60% agreed, but in Russia only 41% thought Trans people deserved government protections.

Most respondents said they don't know a Transgender person, which may account for some of the negative feelings towards Trans rights.

In most countries, people who said they personally know someone who is Transgender were substantially more supportive of Trans rights. In some countries, people who know a Transgender person were as much as 30% more supportive.

In Brazil, however, half of the respondents said they personally knew a Transgender person, but the country ranked 14th on the combined measure of support for Transgender rights, largely because Brazil records some of the highest rates of anti-Trans violence in the world.

In Spain, the most Trans-supportive country, just 25% of respondents said they knew a Transgender person.

In Russia, the most anti-Trans country surveyed, the percentage of people who reported being familiar with a Transgender person is statistically equivalent to the percentages found in countries like the UK, India, and Germany - all between 16% and 20%.

Respondents in Japan appeared to be the least familiar with Transgender people, with only 10% reporting they know a Trans person, even though a 2003 law declared the treatment of Transgender people 'a concern of the national government.'

Less than 3% of respondents identified as Transgender in almost all the countries surveyed. The only country where more identified as Trans was the United States, where 5% said they 'dress and live as one sex even though they were born another.'

In some countries - including the United States - people said they are more comfortable with Gay people than Transgender people.

When asked if they would want Gay people, Trans people, or people of a different race as neighbors, the number of respondents who said they wouldn't want a Gay neighbor or a Transgender neighbor were about the same.

But in several - including the United States - respondents were far more opposed to having a Transgender neighbor than a Gay or Lesbian one. Gay and Lesbian neighbors were also more acceptable to many European respondents than were neighbors of a different race or ethnicity.

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