New survey reveals most American adults support the inclusion of transgender athletes in sports

A study by the Ohio State University reveals most Americans are in favor of inclusion of transgender women in all aspects of life, including sports.


New survey reveals most American adults support the inclusion of transgender athletes in sports

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The debate about transgender athletes participating in sports has become a much-discussed topic in politics and sports. Conservative and right-wing faction of society has highly stood against including transgender athletes, especially transgender women in female sports.

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The main argument by the conservatives and some sportspeople is how the competition becomes unfair for biologically female participants to compete against biologically assigned male transgender female athletes. This has raised questions about both integrity of sports and also on intersectionality within society.

Speaking of intersectionality, it means giving people of all backgrounds equal chances and opportunities, no matter which background, gender, or sexual orientation they belong in. A survey was conducted and published in the Sociology of Sport Journal, which reflects on the general attitude of the American public on this topic.

The study shows American adults’ perception of the appropriateness of the commonly constructed sex and gender binary system in sports and their views on protecting athletes’ rights. The study analyzes 3,993 U.S. adults who participated in the National Sports and Society Survey. The data collected includes respondents generally between the age of 21 to 65 years.

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Related: “Denies science, truth, and common sense,” Riley Gaines lashes out on Biden administration for their proposed Title IX changes

Research indicates strong consensus in favor of transgender athletes in sports in the United States

Riley Gaines and Lia Thomas
Controversial transgender athlete Lia Thomas stands on the podium with one of her most vocal critics Riley Gaines [Credits: Fox News]

According to the study, the researchers estimate that 56% of US adults somewhat or strongly agree with transgender athletes’ right to choose their gender and competition category. However, only 20% of the adults somewhat or strongly agree that athletes should compete only in their biologically assigned sex categories.

Another 54% somewhat or strongly agree that gender segregation in youth sports is problematic. 39% believe sex testing is necessary for sports, while another 47% disagreed with this statement.

Chris Knoester, an associate professor of sociology at Ohio State University, was one of the principal authors of this study. He is also the chair of research for the OSU Sports and Society Initiative. In this regard, Knoester says, “This [the data] suggests to us that in contrast to some of the heated, inflammatory, and discriminatory rhetoric and policy initiatives that have sought to divide various groups of Americans, and particularly stigmatize transgender and nonbinary individuals, most U.S. adults were supportive of transgender, intersex, and nonbinary rights in sports and at least a plurality wanted to see more gender-integrated sports interactions when our study was conducted.”

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The researchers have also noted how specific social characteristics, such as being heterosexual, male, older, and less educated, can affect the perception of a person towards transgender people. Likewise, participants with conservative notions of politics and religious affiliations may also create a solid lobby for excluding transgender athletes, especially trans women.

Knoester further adds to his observations from this study, “These dynamics and patterns in public opinion surrounding sex/gender systems in sports and society are important to keep in mind as we collectively wrestle with appropriate adjustments to Title IX, state-level initiatives and enacted legislation designed to ban transgender athletes from competing in sex/gender categories that match their gender identities, and restrictive and discriminatory international regulations for athletic competitions—while working to institute appropriate ways to organize and conduct sports interactions.”

Former NCAA athlete Lia Thomas is fighting against a Congress legislation tabled for debarring transgender women from female sports. Although she has the support of the Biden administration for her cause, it sure will be a long battle for Thomas, with some of the most prominent political figures, such as Ron DeSantis, being involved with the matter.

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