A poll released Friday by the Public Religion Research Institute shows the majority of Americans oppose so-called "bathroom bills" that would require transgender people to use the bathrooms that correspond with their sex at birth rather than their gender identity, but there is a sharp divide between Republicans and Democrats.
Just over half (53%) of the roughly 2,000 people interviewed for the survey in February said they oppose such measures, including roughly two-thirds of Democrats (65%) but just over one-third of Republicans (36%). In total, about 40% said they support such measures, with about one-in-ten saying they had no opinion on the subject.
In the wake of the Supreme Court decision legalizing same-sex marriage, the rights of transgender people have become the hottest focus in state-level fights over LGBT rights. More than a dozen states are considering some form of "bathroom bill," some dictating the people must use facilities that match the sex on their birth certificate and others explicitly referencing people's anatomy and chromosomes.
In a tense hearing over such a bill in Texas earlier this week, which lasted nearly 21 hours, hundreds of people testified. Though the majority of those who signed up to speak opposed the measure, the heavily Republican committee passed the bill in an 8-to-1 vote.
The PRRI poll also found that a strong majority of Americans — 70%, including 60% of Republicans — support nondiscrimination protections for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people in areas including public accommodations.
Such laws, when they explicitly include protections for people based on gender identity, help to protect transgender people's right to use bathrooms where they are most comfortable in the public square.