NI Majority Not Prejudiced Towards Transgender People

Over 70% of people in Northern Ireland have described themselves as not prejudiced towards the transgender community, a research study has revealed.

While the majority said they are "not prejudiced at all", 21% said they hold some level of a preconceived opinion and 7% responded as unsure, according to data from the 2018 Northern Ireland Life and Times (NILT) Survey.

The recent study by ARK, a joint initiative between Queen's University Belfast and Ulster University titled 'The Missing T: Baselining Attitudes Towards Transgender People in Northern Ireland' was released on Friday 14 June.

It was co-authored by Dr Siobhán McAlister, from the School of Social Sciences, Education and Social Work at QUB and Dr Gail Neill, from School of Applied Social and Policy Sciences at Ulster University.

Some of the key findings include: 

• Over half of the survey population are approving of, or comfortable with, transgender people accessing public toilets, utilising domestic violence refuges and changing their legal gender

• Those who know a transgender person were less prejudiced and more approving of transgender rights

• Females were considerably more comfortable than males of transgender people accessing domestic violence refuges, and of an individual's right to change their birth certificate to reflect their acquired gender.
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Commenting on the survey results Dr McAlister said: "Internationally, there are relatively few national surveys of attitudes towards transgender people. While the Northern Ireland Life and Times (NILT) survey has previously collected data on attitudes towards LGB (lesbian, gay, bisexual) individuals, relationships, marriage and family, it has not collected attitudes towards transgender people.

"The survey results point to positive attitudes towards transgender people and fairly high levels of support for the realisation of their rights."

Dr Neill added: "In recent times we have witnessed unprecedented levels of interest in matters of gender and sexual diversity and identity. This has resulted in part from increased visibility, news coverage, entertainment storylines and celebrity culture. While part of the 'LGBT' (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender) acronym, the 'T' has often been overlooked in popular debate, research and services. The NILT data demonstrates the importance of collecting and analysing attitudes towards gender identities separately to attitudes towards sexual identities."

The ARK NILT survey has been running since 1998 and provides an important source of data on how opinions have changed over the past 20 years.

Full details, including tables of results, from the 2018 NILT Survey are available online.


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