A more tolerant country? Most Canadians support transgender rights, poll suggests

All gender bathroom pictured at St. Lawrence College in Kingston Ont., on May 17, 2016. THE CANADIAN PRESS IMAGES/Lars Hagberg

A strong majority of Canadians would support legislation to protect transgender people from discrimination under law, according to a new opinion poll.

The new poll from the Angus Reid Institute (ARI) found 84 per cent of respondents said they would support adding gender identity as a prohibited ground for discrimination under the Canadian Human Rights Act, including 57 per cent who “strongly support.”

“[The poll] paints a picture of an accommodating, tolerant society – one that views increasing acceptance of transgender people as a sign of social progress,” the ARI said in a statement.
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The new polling numbers follows the Liberal government’s announcement of Bill C-16 last May which would guarantee legal and human rights protection to transgender people across Canada.

Seventy per cent of Canadians also said that society adopting a more “fluid concept of gender” would be “a good thing,” while 77 per cent said Canada should work to accommodate and protect transgender people.

When it came to debate on trans issues on the use of public bathrooms or gender identity on government documents, most Canadians also expressed support.

Thirty nine per cent of people said that identification cards should include a third option like “other” to indicate gender, while 20 per cent said gender should not be included at all. Fifty-eight per cent say transgender people should use the ones they feel most comfortable using, rather than having their washroom choice dictated by law.

Ontario announced that by early 2017 it will begin introducing gender-neutral driver’s licences and health cards where residents will be able to select X, instead of an M for male or F for female for their licences.

READ MORE: Ottawa could easily drop gender from passports

However, when it came to the attention paid by the media and public to trans issues, 70 per cent of those surveyed agreed that “Society is too fixated on issues related to transgender people.” Among LGBTQ Canadians, 70 per cent say trans issues receive “too little attention.”

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The survey also found there are three distinct Canadian mindsets when it comes to views on transgender people in Canada:

  • “Trans Allies” — 48 per cent of respondents.
  • “Trans Opponents” — 15 per cent of respondents.
  • “Sympathetic but Uncertain” — 38 per cent of respondents.

The online survey was conducted from July 26 to Aug. 2, 2016, among a randomized sample of 1,416 Canadian adults who are members of the Angus Reid Forum. A probability sample of this size would carry a margin of error of +/- 2.6 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.

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