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Povich Center

Povich Center, CDCE, Washington Post Poll Finds Most Americans Oppose Allowing Transgender Women to Play Competitive Women’s Sports

COLLEGE PARK -- The latest poll conducted by the University of Maryland’s Shirley Povich Center for Sports Journalism, The Washington Post and the UMD Center for Democracy and Civic Engagement revealed that most Americans oppose allowing transgender female athletes to play sports against other girls and women at the professional, college and high school levels.

It also revealed that significantly more Americans view greater societal acceptance of transgender people as good for society than those who see it as bad.

The poll is the latest in the partnership between the Philip Merrill College of Journalism’s Povich Center, The Washington Post and the College of Behavioral and Social Sciences’ CDCE, which are teaming to conduct as many as two sports and politics polls per year.

Results from the latest poll were published by The Post on June 14 and published by Merrill College's Capital News Service on July 23.

“People increasingly have an awareness of the issue and are empathetic toward the journey that transgender people are on, but the notion that they are competing against athletes that are born a particular sex are lagging behind that,” Povich Center Director Mark Hyman told The Washington Post.

The poll, which was conducted online May 4-17 using a random national sample of 1,503 adults, found that 55% said transgender women should not be allowed to compete against other girls at the high school level, 58% said they should not be able to compete against other women at the college level and 58% said they should not be able to compete against other women at the pro level. A smaller 49% opposed allowing transgender girls to participate in youth sports, while 33% supported this.

“A long line of research shows that knowing members of a particular group leads to more positive attitudes toward the group. We see that here,” CDCE Research Director Michael Hanmer said. “There is some evidence of this when we look specifically at support for allowing transgender women and girls to compete with other women and girls. But the shifts are much smaller, suggesting there are additional considerations involved.”

The poll also explored Title IX, the landmark gender-equity legislation that passed 50 years ago. The Post published those findings June 22. The poll found that while most Americans are unfamiliar with Title IX, there is "broad support" for its mandate.

On June 30, The Post published the poll's findings that paying college athletes for name, image and likeness hasn't hurt fans' enjoyment of sports. On July 8, The Post published findings that support for sports betting is growing.

The Shirley Povich Center for Sports Journalism prepares students to be innovators and leaders in all facets of sports media. The center's unique, experiential curriculum and public programs elevate and amplify discussion of race, gender, politics and the world -- just as Shirley Povich did each morning in The Washington Post.

The CDCE educates, informs, and engages citizens and scholars in order to improve democratic governance. The CDCE does so by partnering with organizations such as The Washington Post to bridge the gap between academic research and practical solutions to problems related to the role of government and its citizens as equal partners.

To serve their respective missions, the Povich Center and CDCE will use the poll to support its students in a variety of ways. It will provide troves of proprietary data for student reporting projects, students will help choose poll subjects, and the center will host panels and discussions based on the poll results.

For more information, contact:
Kaitlyn Wilson

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