Public attitudes about transgender participation in sports: The roles of gender, gender identity conformity, and sports fandom Article (Faculty180)

cited authors

  • Flores, Andrew; Haider-Markel, Donald; Lewis, Daniel; Miller, Patrick; Tadlock, Barry; Taylor, Jami K


  • Sports are often gendered and explicitly sex-segregated social spaces. The controversy over transgender athletes’ participation in sex-segregated sports has gained increased attention given policies such as Title IX and recent changes by organizations such as the International Olympic Committee. There is also increasing media coverage given to transgender athletes, such as Texas high school wrestler Mack Beggs. In this article, we examine the role of gender, gender attitudes, and interest in sports on public attitudes about transgender inclusion in athletics. Using a representative survey of 1,020 adults in the United States and after controlling for a variety of demographic, political, and attitudinal factors, we find that women are more supportive than men of transgender athletes’ participation in sports. In addition, we find that individuals who hold traditional gender role beliefs and those who have greater gender identity congruence with their sex are less likely to support transgender athletes’ participation in competitive sports. The effects of gender identity congruence and belief in traditional gender roles are also conditioned by respondent sex. We furthermore address the gendered social space of sport by controlling for the degree to which our respondents are sports fans. We find that sports fans are more likely to oppose transgender athletes’ participation and that female sports fans have views that resemble those of men. Finally, respondents who have contact with transgender people and those that espouse more egalitarianism are more favorable towards transgender participation while those with greater moral traditionalism are more opposed.


publication date

  • 2020

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