You Cannot Put a Human Being to a Vote

Most Americans oppose anti-trans policies — but trans people’s right to exist is not a popularity contest.

Jude Ellison S. Doyle
4 min readMay 10, 2023

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Scales — the balancing kind — on a rainbow background. I don’t know why I chose the rainbow. It was soothing.
On the one hand, you have innate human dignity no-one can take away. On the other hand… should you????Photo by Elena Mozhvilo on Unsplash

On Monday, the Washington Post published a front-page headline I’d been dreading for years: “Most in U.S. Back GOP’s Anti-Trans Policies.” Fortunately, it wasn’t true.

Multiple polls, including very recent polls, show that the majority of Americans oppose anti-trans discrimination. As Parker Molloy has shown, the Washington Post’s own polling found the same thing — of the 823 cis people surveyed, large majorities believed that trans people should be protected from discrimination in schools, protected from discrimination at work, and supported in receiving safe, affordable gender-affirming healthcare.

The only area where this was untrue was gender-affirming care for children and teenagers. The WaPo found that a majority, sometimes a very slim majority, opposed giving minors access to puberty blockers and HRT. This finding is in line with other recent research: Last month, a PBS NewsHour/NPR/Marist poll found that a majority of respondents supported trans rights, but “about half,” or 54 percent, opposed gender-affirming healthcare for minors. This dip in support is likely due to the past few years of anti-trans messaging from the right, which has concentrated on children and teenagers.

Of course, this finding is a cause for concern. Puberty is often a crucial time for trans people, because going through the wrong changes can cause acute psychological distress, and also because transitioning at a younger age often makes it easier to “pass” as cis, which means experiencing more safety and less discrimination overall. There is also cause to worry in how fast the pro-trans majority shrunk in response to right-wing messaging.

What this story really brings to mind, though, is just how acutely sick I am of having to justify trans people’s right to live by citing voter support for trans existence. I am sick of talking about trans people as if we were an issue to be voted on, and not people already living full and complex human lives. There is nothing — not in the WaPo’s data, not in any other data I’m aware of — to indicate that “most people in the U.S.” favor anti-trans discrimination, but…

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Jude Ellison S. Doyle

Author of “Trainwreck” (Melville House, ‘16) and “Dead Blondes and Bad Mothers” (Melville House, ‘19). Columns published far and wide across the Internet.