The Pew Research Center yesterday released some interesting data on transgender and nonbinary Americans – and there’s a good chance Christian nationalists aren’t going to like the findings.
A growing number of Americans, 44%, say they know someone who is transgender. In addition, 20% say they know someone who is nonbinary. More interestingly, most Americans, 79%, say they’ve heard at least something about people who are nonbinary and have encountered terms like “gender fluid.”
Of course, knowing that such terms exist doesn’t automatically translate to acceptance. But, if past experience is any indication, familiarity and visibility do make a difference in the long run. In 1988, only 11% of Americans supported marriage equality. That number now stands at 71%. We can debate what caused this rapid reversal, but a likely factor is that as more and more straight Americans realized they know someone who identifies as LGBTQ, they found it difficult to operate from a place of fear and hate, as Christian nationalists would have us do. By extension, people also found discrimination against LGBTQ people increasingly difficult to accept.
The trend is not moving in a way that’s likely to please Christian nationalists because young people consider this a settled issue. As Pew notes, “The share of U.S. adults who are transgender is particularly high among adults younger than 25. In this age group, 3.1% are a trans man or a trans woman, compared with just 0.5% of those ages 25 to 29.” This isn’t happening because there are suddenly more trans people; it’s happening because people are more comfortable living as their authentic selves.
During Pride Month, it’s important to remember that the LGBTQ community still faces many obstacles. The ultra-conservative Supreme Court may roll back rights we thought we had nailed down. Transgender rights in particular are under ugly forms of attack in many states. Books that deal with LGBTQ themes are being targeted for censorship.
But if current trends continue, we can, if we choose, generate a tide of change so powerful that no court, state legislature or Congress will be able to hold it back.
That’s the stuff of Christian nationalist nightmares. But frankly, in light of the pain they’ve caused so many families over this issue, their sleep deserves to be a little troubled.