Majority support for gender neutral choice

·2-min read

Two-thirds of Australians support people being able to identify as gender neutral, according to a new survey.

Significantly more females and younger Australians know someone who identifies as gender neutral, while 16 per cent of people have a friend or family member who identifies themselves in this way, the poll results show.

Gender diversity is common and accepted in Australia and the latest survey results maintain that trend, University of Sydney researcher and lecturer Victoria Rawlings said.

"Australia as a society, we are more and more open to gender diversity," she told AAP.

But the results, from polling conducted by Pollinate and Fifty Acres, show a significant gender split, with two in three women, and only one in two men agreeing with the concept of gender neutral identification.

"I have a sense it's because women experience sexism and gender discrimination more than men ... they are more empathetic to people who experience that every day," Dr Rawlings said.

Age has an impact too, with three in every four 18-24 year olds accepting gender neutrality, and a high level of acceptance among people aged 55 to 64.

Sally Goldner from Transgender Victoria told AAP the survey shows overwhelmingly that Australians believe gender diverse people are just trying to live and be recognised for who they are.

But she said lower acceptance levels among men appears to be a trend in a lot of gender discussions.

"Men perhaps lag behind a bit, and maybe that's about how men are taught, the macho attitude that men are taught about gender and sexuality."

"It sometimes feels that ultra-masculine men feel they have to control everything about gender, including women and children, and it's not up to them to control it," she told AAP.

The survey of more than 1000 people was answered by half women and half men, and two of the respondents identified as 'non binary'.

The survey found 12 per cent of Australians have heard of the gender-neutral honorific Mx, which has been accepted by institutions in the UK for about five years.

Sixteen per cent of the people who recognised the title said they would not mind if it was applied to them.

Sally Goldner said it's encouraging that there is some awareness of Mx, because "people need to be able to use an honorific they choose".

Garrett Tyler-Parker from Pollinate, which conducted the survey, says it's no longer standard to provide just two options when asking people about their gender.

"Having only male and female options is not keeping in step with the progression of Australian society," he told AAP.

Just over half of the survey respondents associated non-specific gender with the LGBTQI community, while two in five women and 45 per cent of 18-24 year olds said they had experienced gender discrimination.