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UMD-Post Poll: Most Americans Oppose Allowing Transgender Women to Play Competitive Women’s Sports

By Josh Land

Most Americans oppose allowing transgender female athletes to play sports against other girls and women at the professional, college and high school levels, even as they increasingly see acceptance of transgender people as good for society, according to a new poll conducted by the University of Maryland and The Washington Post.

The poll is the latest in the partnership between The Post, the Philip Merrill College of Journalism’s Shirley Povich Center for Sports Journalism and the College of Behavioral and Social Sciences’ Center for Democracy and Civic Engagement. The Post published the results on Tuesday morning.

“People increasingly have an awareness of the issue and are empathetic toward the journey that transgender people are on, but the notion that they are competing against athletes that are born a particular sex are lagging behind that,” Povich Center Director Mark Hyman told The Washington Post.

The poll, conducted online May 4-17 using a random national sample of 1,503 adults, found that 55% said transgender women should not be allowed to compete against other girls at the high school level, 58% said they should not be able to compete against other women at the college level and 58% said they should not be able to compete against other women at the pro level. A smaller 49% opposed allowing transgender girls to participate in youth sports, while 33% supported this.

“A long line of research shows that knowing members of a particular group leads to more positive attitudes toward the group. We see that here,” CDCE Research Director Michael Hanmer said. “There is some evidence of this when we look specifically at support for allowing transgender women and girls to compete with other women and girls. But the shifts are much smaller, suggesting there are additional considerations involved.”

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