Transgender athletes have drawn headlines in recent years for their victories in women’s sports, but most Americans aren’t fans.
A Rasmussen Reports poll released Friday found that 51% of U.S. adults surveyed opposed allowing athletes compete on the basis of their gender identity, including biological males who participate in women’s and girls’ sports.
Only 29% supported “allowing transgender students to participate on the sports teams of the gender they identify with,” while 20% were undecided, the survey said.
The results of the poll, taken Oct. 31-Nov. 2, were virtually identical to a Rasmussen survey released in June, which found only 28% favored allowing transgender students “to participate on the sports team of the gender they identify with,” while 54% were opposed.
Public opinion on the sports issue comes in contrast to polls showing increasing support for transgender rights. A PRRI survey released in June that found 62% of Americans surveyed were more supportive of transgender rights in the last five years.
A Gallup poll taken May 15-30 found 71% of U.S. adults supported openly transgender people serving in the military, while those surveyed remained split on the bathroom issue, with 51% supporting transgender people using the public facilities that correspond to birth gender versus 44% who favored gender identity.
The issue of sports competition has been more disputed. While LGBTQ advocates have cheered transgender athletes competing based on their gender identity, foes have argued that it gives biological males an unfair edge.
The conservative Alliance Defending Freedom has filed a federal complaint on behalf of a Connecticut high school student, Selina Soule, who failed to quality for the New England regionals after losing a race to two biological male students who identify as girls.
“In fact, one of the athletes who displaced Selina previously competed against other male athletes in the winter 2018 season and failed to advance in boys’ indoor track events,” the ADF said. “It wasn’t until that athlete began competing in girls’ events during the 2018 spring season that the dominance began. This biological male now holds more than 10 records within the state of Connecticut that once belonged to 10 different girls.”
In May, House Democrats approved the Equality Act, which would ban discrimination based on gender identity and sexual orientation, despite opposition from Republicans who said it would erode the ability of females to participate in competitive sports.
Democrats like Rep. Ilhan Omar, Minnesota Democrat, have insisted that transgender athletes enjoy no automatic advantage in women’s sports.
“The myth that trans women have a ‘direct competitive advantage’ is not supported by medical science, and it continues to stoke fear and violence against one of the most at-risk communities in the world,” Ms. Omar said in a Jan. 31 letter in support of a transgender powerlifter excluded from the women’s events.
On the other side is tennis great Martina Navratilova, who is openly lesbian and a staunch supporter of gay rights. In a February op-ed, she called allowing transgender athletes to compete in women’s sports “cheating.”
“It’s insane and it’s cheating,” she said in the [U.K.] Sunday Times. “I am happy to address a transgender woman in whatever form she prefers, but I would not be happy to compete against her. It would not be fair.”