Human Rights Campaign Foundation & Civis Analytics Release Groundbreaking Data on Transgender Visibility in the U.S., detailing how both trans visibility and misinformation about trans people have increased in recent years.
WASHINGTON, DC—Today, the Human Rights Campaign Foundation, the educational arm of the nation’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ+) civil rights organization released a new report on transgender visibility in the United States using analyzing data from a Civis Analytics poll. The report, Trans Lives & Positive Visibility: How News & Media Can Positively Cover Trans and Non-Binary Stories, gives new insight on how media coverage and broader “visibility” can both affect society’s perception of the transgender community as well as transgender individuals. The report finds that a plurality of adults (33%) are very (17%) or somewhat (16%) unfamiliar with topics and issues about the transgender and non-binary community, while a majority (52%) said their news and media did not mention trans or non-binary people in the last week. Despite this relative lack of familiarity with the community and its social issues, 72% of adults said they strongly (51%) or somewhat (21%) agree that “transgender people should have equal rights and be able to live free of violence and discrimination.”
The report further identifies how media sources may either intentionally, or inadvertently, perpetuate the stigmatization of trans and non-binary people in the stories that they cover and the way they cover them.
Furthermore, the report finds how other media sources can ignore transgender and non-binary people altogether, perpetrating invisibility, cultural marginalization and erasure that can have ramifications beyond news and media. And worse, news and media sources such as Fox News, Breitbart, The Daily Wire, Life Site, One America News and Newsmax especially contribute to the cultural marginalization, invisibility and erasure of trans and non-binary people, deepening the stigma the community faces.
When respondents did see depictions of transgender and non-binary people in the news, they were not necessarily positive. Not many say they see positive stories or representations of transgender and non-binary people in their usual news and media, such as trans and non-binary people living everyday lives or how trans and non-binary people are just like one’s own family,
Many adults are very or somewhat unfamiliar (33%) with topics and issues about the transgender and non-binary community.
A majority (52%) said their news and media did not mention trans or non-binary people in the last week.
A small plurality (37%) of adults either somewhat or strongly agreed that the news and media they usually consume shows “transgender people living everyday lives.”
Adults in the United States overwhelmingly agree that trans and non-binary people should have equal rights and be able to live free of violence and discrimination.
72% of adults said they strongly (51%) or somewhat (21%) agree that “transgender people should have equal rights and be able to live free of violence and discrimination.”
Two-thirds (66%) of adults strongly or somewhat agree that “any transgender person deserves support and healthcare that helps them to live as their authentic gender.”
A plurality (42%) said they strongly or somewhat disagreed that “we would better serve transgender people by helping them to live as the sex they were born,” or their sex assigned at birth.
Analysis from the HRC Foundation suggests that media must be more inclusive of and more accurately cover trans and non-binary people in news stories and coverage. Right-leaning news and media sources, in particular, contribute in an outsized way to how the public develops negative opinions about transgender and non-binary people, and perpetuate misinformation about trans lives and their health care needs.
A majority of adults (58%) who do not usually get any of their news from right-leaning sources strongly agree that “transgender people seek equal treatment under the law.”
Among respondents who only consume right-leaning sources, that percentage falls by about half to 31% of adults.
Roughly three-quarters (76%) of adults who usually only consume media that does not include any right-leaning sources say “any transgender person deserves support and healthcare that helps them to live as their authentic gender.”
A majority (51%) of adults who only consume right-leaning sources say “we would better serve transgender people by helping them to live as the sex they were born”
News and media that are not right-leaning can help many in the public to see trans and non-binary people, though with different experiences in some cases, deserve the same rights and dignity as everyone else. The findings of this research serve as a call to action for all news, media and content creators to produce positive coverage of trans people that can change lives, hearts and minds. These revelations are outlined into the below sections.
Understanding Trans Visibility;
Cultural Marginalization, Invisibility & Stigma;
What the Public Sees in Media;
How the Public Views the Trans and Non-binary Community;
and How News and Media Leaning Shapes Public Opinion on Trans and Non-binary People.
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