A new poll released Thursday showed overwhelming and unprecedented support for transgender women.
Nearly four out of five people (or 79.8 percent) say transgender women “should have the same rights as other women” in a survey of five countries from the Thomson Reuters Foundation. Exactly 1,000 women were polled in Cairo, London, Mexico City, New York City, and Tokyo.
Opposition to trans equality was very low in the poll. Just 3.7 percent of respondents claimed transgender women should not have equal rights, while 16.5 percent of the women polled declined to answer.
Support for equality was highest in Mexico City, where nearly nine in 10 people (or 89 percent) claimed trans women should be treated equally. London and New York followed close behind with 87 percent of respondents supporting equality for transgender people. Tokyo and Cairo rounded out the list with 75 percent and 62 percent support, respectively.
Many LGBTQ advocates claimed they were “happily surprised” by the results. In not a single one of the surveys did a majority of respondents oppose trans rights.
“I’m very surprised by the poll… as there is a lot of ignorance around transgender issues,” claimed Lobna Darwish, who serves as the women’s rights officer for the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights, in an interview with Reuters.
In many of the countries surveyed, the reality for LGBTQ individuals — particularly trans people — is very different than the numbers might suggest.
More than 100 queer and trans people were arrested in Egypt last year after the government began cracking down on the country’s already marginalized LGBTQ community. The violence began when fans of the queer-fronted band Mashrou Leila hoisted a Pride flag in support of equality at its September 2017 concert in Cairo.
In Japan, transgender people are forced to undergo sterilization before their birth certificates can be updated to reflect their lived gender identities.
While the United States has made tremendous progress in recent years, those gains have been rolled back by the current administration. Since taking office in 2017, President Trump has attempted to block trans people from joining the military and rescinded protections in areas like education and health care.
Advocates told Reuters that the recent survey results are “absolutely encouraging,” however. They claim the poll is a sign that, even despite numerous setbacks, the arc of the moral universe continues to bend toward justice.
“We’ve seen a real cultural shift over the last few decades,” said Gillian Branstetter, media relations manager at the National Center for Trans Equality.