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British Social Attitudes Survey 36: Relationships and Gender. Attitudes to Transgender People

Published: 2019

An investigation into the attitudes of the UK public on trans people.

Key findings

While the population are very keen not to be seen as personally prejudiced against transgender people, they are less clear that transphobia is always wrong.

  • 83% state they are “not prejudiced at all” towards transgender people, compared with just 15% who describe themselves as “very” or “a little” prejudiced.
  • However, around half of respondents (49%) view prejudice against transgender people as “always” wrong, compared with 6% who feel it is “rarely” or “never” wrong.
  • A minority (13%) agree that the process transgender people go through reflects “a very superficial and temporary” need, compared with 62% who disagree.

Results by demographics

Younger people are less likely to agree that “most people who are transgender have gone through this process because of a very superficial and temporary need” and less likely to describe themselves as prejudiced against transgender people: 14% of those in the youngest age group indicate some level of prejudice compared with 22% of the oldest age group, while 54% of those in the youngest age group agree that prejudice is “always wrong” compared with 35% of those in the oldest age group.

72% of women said that they were “very” or “quite comfortable” with a transgender woman using a female toilet, compared with 64% of men who reported that they were “very” or “quite comfortable” with a transgender man using the male toilets (Swales and Attar Taylor, 2017).

Higher levels of education are associated with more positive views of transgender people. Less than one in ten people with a degree level qualification (8%) agree that transgender people go through the process because of a “superficial and temporary need”, rising to around one in five (21%) of those without formal qualifications. Similarly, just 13% of the more highly educated group see themselves as prejudiced against transgender people, compared with 22% of those with no qualifications.

Those with no religion (10%) are the least likely to agree that going through the process is because of a “superficial and temporary need” compared with 18% of other (non-Anglican or Roman Catholic) Christians and 18% of those belonging to a non-Christian religion. Similarly, 12% of those without a religion report some level of prejudice toward transgender people, rising to between 16%- 20% for Christians and 22% for those in non-Christian religions. An association between religious observance and attitudes towards transgender people is also present, with those who attend a religious service less than twice per year significantly less likely to say that transitions are due to a “superficial and temporary need” than those who attend one or more religious services per week.


Source: Curtice, J., Clery, E., Perry, J., Phillips M. and Rahim, N. (eds.) (2019), British Social Attitudes: The 36th Report, London: The National Centre for Social Research

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