Most voters oppose candidates who campaign against transgender people: Poll

Candidates who often discuss restrictions on transgender Americans or signal support for policies that limit access to gender-affirming health care may be drumming up more opposition than support, according to a survey released Thursday by GLAAD, an LGBTQ media advocacy organization.

More than 50 percent of both registered and likely voters surveyed by the group in January said they would oppose a candidate who “speaks frequently about restricting access to health care and participation in sports for transgender youth.”

That could spell trouble for some Republicans, who have largely embraced anti-trans messaging ahead of November’s elections, despite the strategy’s minimal success in the 2022 midterms.

The party’s shift to the right on transgender issues has mobilized some voters, however, and former President Trump marveled at a North Carolina crowd’s enthusiasm for his proposal to ban transgender athletes and lessons about gender identity from schools in June.

Trump last year vowed to ban gender-affirming health care for transgender minors if he is reelected in November and said he would pass federal laws that recognize only two genders — male and female — and bar transgender women and girls from competing on female sports teams.

Federal agencies under his administration would also be instructed to immediately cease programs that promote the concept of gender transition “at any age,” Trump said in a February 2023 straight-to-camera video released on Rumble.

“Under my leadership, this madness will end,” he said.

As president, Trump rolled back a health care policy that protected LGBTQ patients from discrimination; banned transgender service members from the military; rescinded Obama-era guidance directing schools to allow trans students to use bathrooms that match their gender identity, and proposed allowing homeless shelters to deny transgender people access to single-sex shelters.

According to Thursday’s GLAAD survey, opposition to laws that specifically restrict access to gender-affirming health care is widespread, with more than 80 percent of likely voters, 83 percent of swing voters and 73 percent of Trump voters agreeing that health care decisions for transgender minors should be made by their parents.

The same categories of voters similarly agreed that Republicans “should stop focusing on restricting women’s rights and banning medical care for transgender youth” and instead focus on addressing inflation, job creation and rising health care costs.

LGBTQ voters surveyed by GLAAD said they are highly motivated to vote in November’s elections, with 83 percent indicating they are “definitely” voting. When asked about their level of motivation to participate in this year’s elections on a zero to 10 point scale, 88 percent of LGBTQ voters rated themselves between seven and 10.

LGBTQ voters exhibited a strong preference for President Biden and Democrats running for Congress this year, consistent with prior findings that they are more likely to be registered Democrats and support Democratic candidates in elections. A Washington Post analysis found that LGBTQ voters represented 7 percent to 8 percent of the overall electorate in 2020, playing a key role in Biden’s win over Trump that year.

In this year’s presidential election, LGBTQ likely voters prefer Biden to Trump by 53 percentage points nationwide, according to Thursday’s GLAAD survey, and by 57 percentage points in seven battleground states: Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Nevada, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. In a generic vote preference for Congress, LGBTQ likely voters overwhelmingly prefer a Democratic candidate.

“GLAAD’s research shows that LGBTQ Americans are ready to exert their significant power to shape electoral politics, choose responsible leadership, and use their voices to advocate for equality,” Sarah Kate Ellis, the group’s president and CEO, said Thursday in a statement.

“Candidates, parties, strategists and reporters are on notice about the power of the LGBTQ vote and the issues that should be demanding attention, including our fundamental freedoms and everyone’s safety and well-being,” she added.

But LGBTQ voters are not a monolith, and many have vocalized their lack of enthusiasm or support for a second Biden term, citing frustrations with the administration’s response to the proliferation of state legislation targeting LGBTQ individuals and the president’s support of Israel, among other issues.

More than 470 anti-LGBTQ bills have been filed since January, according to the American Civil Liberties Union, already closing in on last year’s record of 510 bills. The majority of bills target transgender young people, whom Biden has defended in public statements and executive action but has struggled to support through substantive action.

Four LGBTQ rights groups — including GLAAD — criticized the federal government’s response to a tidal wave of anti-LGBTQ legislation in Texas and other GOP-led states in a letter to the United Nations in January, accusing the Biden administration of violating the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), a U.N. treaty committing nations to protect and preserve basic human rights.

“Allowing the unchecked proliferation of such bills in state legislatures indicates an unwillingness to adhere to the human rights norms of the ICCPR, both from individual states and the federal government,” the groups wrote in the letter.

LGBTQ voters in Thursday’s GLAAD survey signaled they are more likely to support Biden and Democrats in this year’s elections because the alternative is worse. In the poll, 86 percent said they anticipate an even more conservative Supreme Court “with lasting implications for generations” if Republicans win back the White House and the Senate in November.

More than 80 percent of LGBTQ voters said they expect to see more restrictions on the rights of parents of transgender children, abortion and renewed attempts to outlaw same-sex marriage over the next two years, regardless of whether Democrats or Republicans control the White House or Congress.

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