According to a new Pew Research Center study, 51 percent believe transgender people should be able to use the bathroom that matches their gender identity; 46 percent disagree. It’s evidence that support for so-called “bathroom bills” like North Carolina’s HB2 exists outside the confines of conservative Christianity—not that this is news to transgender people themselves.
Pew’s data also has a twist. Americans aren’t just split on the issue, but also deeply antagonistic to people with opposing views. Of people who support the transgender community’s right to use public bathrooms at will, less than a third report feeling “sympathy” for their ideological opponents. The same is true of people who think transgender people should be required to use the wrong bathroom:
There’s been a lot of fear-mongering about transgender people in public bathrooms, and that’s because right-wing groups know it’s an effective political tactic: Everyone fears a predator. Attached to transgender people, that smear travels a great distance.
Pew suggests that its results are evidence of widespread political polarization. And that means the bathroom debate won’t be settled any time soon.