Younger Americans Back Transgender Worker Protections

But United Technologies/National Journal Congressional Connection Poll finds support decreases with age.

WASHINGTON, DC - OCTOBER 01: (AFP-OUT) U.S. President Barack Obama delivers remarks during the Human Rights Campaign's 15th Annual National Dinner at the Washington Convention Center on October 1, 2011 in Washington, DC. The President spoke to one of the leading gay rights groups two weeks after the repeal of the military's 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' policy.
National Journal
Scott Bland
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Scott Bland
Dec. 12, 2013, 2:32 p.m.

Thanks to over­whelm­ing sup­port among young­er Amer­ic­ans, a ma­jor­ity of the coun­try would sup­port new le­gis­la­tion bar­ring work­place dis­crim­in­a­tion against trans­gender people. But the latest United Tech­no­lo­gies/Na­tion­al Journ­al Con­gres­sion­al Con­nec­tion Poll found that older gen­er­a­tions are less likely to sup­port pro­tec­tions for trans­gendered people in the work­place than for gay work­ers.

Even among sup­port­ers of new le­gis­la­tion bar­ring em­ploy­ers from treat­ing work­ers dif­fer­ently be­cause of their sexu­al ori­ent­a­tion, the poll found many people were less sure over­all about ex­tend­ing pro­tec­tions to trans­gendered people.

The num­bers re­flect a long­time split in the LGBT act­iv­ist com­munity, in which the “T” has of­ten taken a back­seat and seen less re­cog­ni­tion and pro­gress on its is­sues. That has star­ted to shift among the young­er gen­er­a­tion of act­iv­ists and gay-rights sup­port­ers, and the poll res­ults show a nar­row­er gap between sup­port for gay pro­tec­tions and trans­gender pro­tec­tions among young­er re­spond­ents to the poll.

The Sen­ate passed le­gis­la­tion ad­dress­ing both is­sues, called the Em­ploy­ment Non-Dis­crim­in­a­tion Act, in Novem­ber. It in­cluded an­ti­discrim­in­a­tion pro­tec­tions for gay and trans­gender work­ers.

Over­all, 66 per­cent of Amer­ic­ans want to make it il­leg­al for work­places to dis­crim­in­ate against work­ers on the basis of sexu­al ori­ent­a­tion. Sup­port is highest among 18-to-29-year-olds, 75 per­cent of whom are in fa­vor. But it de­clines in each suc­cess­ive age group, with 66 per­cent sup­port from those 30-49 years old; 65 per­cent sup­port from those 50-64; and 57 per­cent sup­port from people 65 and older, a de­crease of 18 per­cent­age points from the young­est group to the old­est.

Mean­while, a smal­ler sub­set of the over­all poll re­spond­ents — 56 per­cent — said they want a new work­place-dis­crim­in­a­tion bill that in­cludes pro­tec­tions for trans­gendered people, too. And there was an even big­ger gen­er­a­tion­al split on that is­sue. It got 67 per­cent sup­port from those ages 18-29; 57 per­cent sup­port from those 30-49; 55 per­cent from those 50-64; and 42 per­cent from seni­ors.

That adds up to a 25-point gap on trans­gender pro­tec­tions between the old­est and young­est sur­veyed. The big shift in gen­er­a­tion­al at­ti­tudes helps ex­plain how trans­gender pro­tec­tions came to be in­cluded in the most re­cent ver­sion of ENDA that passed the Sen­ate. Just six years ago, that pro­vi­sion didn’t make it in­to the fi­nal ver­sion of the bill Con­gress con­sidered then.

In­ter­views for the United Tech­no­lo­gies/Na­tion­al Journ­al Con­gres­sion­al Con­nec­tion Poll were con­duc­ted Dec. 5-8 by land­line and cell phone with a na­tion­ally rep­res­ent­at­ive sample of 1,002 adults by Prin­ceton Sur­vey Re­search As­so­ci­ates In­ter­na­tion­al. The mar­gin of er­ror was plus or minus 3.7 per­cent­age points.

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