Americans are evenly divided over which bathrooms transgender people should use, according to a new poll released Wednesday.
Forty-four percent say transgender people should be required to use the bathrooms that match the sexes on their birth certificates, while 43 percent say individuals should be allowed to choose the restrooms with which they identify, according to a new Marist poll commissioned by WGBH-Boston for its series “Point Taken.”
The “Point Taken”-Marist poll found that a majority of Americans – 6 in 10 – prefer that public restrooms be separated for males and females. Just 31 percent backed gender-neutral public bathrooms.
The poll comes amid a federal lawsuit over North Carolina’s law barring transgender people from using the bathrooms they see as appropriate to their sexual identities and as the Obama administration has called for transgender schoolchildren to use restrooms matching their gender identities.
Georgia, Texas and nine other states filed a federal lawsuit Wednesday against the administration’s directive, arguing it has “no basis in law.”
The poll of 507 adults also suggested increased acceptance of transgender individuals:
– Nine in 10 Americans think transgender people should receive equal protection under the law in housing and employment.
– Two-thirds think they should have the same legal protection when it comes to public restrooms.
– Eighty percent said they thought there was more acceptance of transgender people now than a decade ago.
The poll also found that 45 percent of Americans think the sex listed on a person’s birth certificate is the only way to define a person’s gender, and 41 percent say the definition should be updated to include a person’s gender identity.
That support came with a regional difference: A majority of Americans in the Northeast and the West think the meaning of gender should include how a person describes his or her identity. In the Midwest, only 24 percent agreed with that.
Southerners were split, with 43 percent saying gender should remain defined as an individual’s sex at birth and 41 percent saying the definition needs an update.
Most Americans – 59 percent – said they did not know anyone who was transgender or whose gender identity varied.