‘21% of Northern Ireland people prejudiced against transgender community’

More than a fifth of people in Northern Ireland are prejudiced against the transgender community, an academic survey has found.

The study by Ark, a joint initiative between Queen’s University Belfast and Ulster University, revealed that 21% of those questioned are prejudiced towards transgender people, but 72% describe themselves as “not prejudiced at all”.

Seven percent said they did not know.

The report, Missing T: Baselining Attitudes Towards Transgender People in Northern Ireland, was compiled using data from the 2018 Northern Ireland Life and Times (Nilt) Survey.

It also showed that those who know a transgender person are less prejudiced and more approving of transgender rights.

Further findings include that more than half of the survey population approve of, or are comfortable with, transgender people accessing public toilets, utilising domestic violence refuges and changing their legal gender

Females were found to be considerably more comfortable than males with transgender people using domestic violence refuges, and with an individual having the right to change their birth certificate to reflect their acquired gender.

Report co-author Dr Siobhan McAlister, from the School of Social Sciences, Education and Social Work at Queen’s University Belfast, said it is one of relatively few surveys of 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,” she said.

Co-author Dr Gail Neill, from the School of Applied Social and Policy Sciences at Ulster University, said: “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.”

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