Global Attitudes Toward Transgender People

Global Attitudes Toward Transgender People from Ipsos Public Affairs

Washington, DC - As part of Ipsos’ ongoing commitment to bringing voice to people through data, Ipsos undertook a survey on the topic of transgender people on our monthly global survey vehicle Global Advisor. The data was collected online between October 24th and November 7th, 2017 and included the following countries: Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Chile, China, Ecuador, France, Great Britain, Germany, Hungary, India, Italy, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, Peru, Poland, Russia, Serbia, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Turkey, and the United States of America. 

For the purposes of this summary write-up, however, Ipsos has chosen to focus on findings from the 16 countries where internet penetration is sufficiently high to feel confident that the data is truly nationally representative (and it is weighted as such therein): Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Canada, France, Germany, Great Britain, Hungary, Italy, Japan, Poland, Serbia, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, and the United States. Full methodological details can be found at the end of this document.

Majority Want their Country to Do More to Protect and Support Transgender People

A strong majority of people around the world would like their country to do more to support and protect transgender people (60%), with those in Spain (70%) and Argentina (67%) most likely to agree. Poland (39%), Hungary, and Japan (both 41%) are least likely to agree. A slim majority of respondents in the United States (51%) and France (52%) would like to see their country do more to protect and support transgender individuals. People around the world are more likely to say they believe their government needs to protect transgender people from discrimination (70%), with a majority of every country in the nationally representative markets agreeing (Argentina (84%) is most likely to agree, Poland (51%) is least likely to agree). 

Most Believe Transgender People Are “A Natural Occurrence,” But Many Still Believe It Is A Mental Illness or Sin

Given the range of (mis)perceptions that exist about transgender people, Ipsos and BuzzFeed, in discussion with the Williams Institute, developed a series of questions in 2016 designed to better understand how people perceive and understand the concept and emergence of transgender individuals.

A majority of people in countries surveyed (52%) believe that transgender people are a natural occurrence. This belief is most commonly held in Spain (64%) and Germany (60%). People in Hungary (44%), Italy (45%), and Japan (48%) are the least likely to believe that transgender people are a natural occurrence. Although people in Italy and Hungary agree at similar rates that transgender people are a natural occurrence, just 11% of people in Italy believe transgender people have a form of mental illness, compared to 43% in Hungary. People in Italy (11%), Spain (9%), Argentina (13%), and France (13%) are least likely to believe that transgender people have a form of mental illness. This compares to two in five people in Serbia (44%), Hungary (43%), and Poland (41%). Among western countries, the United States is most likely to believe that transgender people have a mental illness (32%) and the most likely out of all countries surveyed to believe that transgendered people are committing a sin (32%). Americans are the most likely to say that society has gone too far in allowing people to dress and live as one sex even though they were born another (36%), while people in Japan are least likely to agree with this sentiment (9%).  Read more via Ipsos