Americans overwhelmingly oppose transgender athletes in female sports, poll shows

Two-thirds of Americans say transgender girls 'have a competitive advantage' over biological girls in youth sports

The majority of Americans believe that greater social acceptance of transgender people is good for society, but they overwhelmingly reject transgender women being permitted to compete in sports against biological women, according to a new poll.

A Washington Post-University of Maryland survey released Tuesday asked a random national sample of adults whether they think "transgender women and girls should or should not be allowed to compete in sports with other women and girls at each of the following levels."

The majority – 58% – said it should not be allowed in college or professional sports, compared to 28% who said it should. Fifty-five percent of respondents said it shouldn’t be allowed in high school sports, compared to 30%, and 49% said it shouldn’t be allowed in youth sports, compared to 33%.

Penn transgender swimmer Lia Thomas

UPenn transgender swimmer Lia Thomas has stirred controversy with dominant performances against biological female swimmers.  (AP Photo/Josh Reynolds)

A whopping 68% of respondents said that if transgender girls are allowed to compete against biological girls in youth sports, "transgender girls would have a competitive advantage over other girls."

Two percent said biological girls would hold the advantage, while 30% said neither would.


Respondents were also asked whether they were concerned that not allowing transgender girls to compete with other girls in youth sports would negatively impact the "mental health of transgender girls." Fifty-two percent said they were "very" or "somewhat" concerned, while 48% said they were "not too" or "not at all" concerned.

Upenn Lia Thomas nationals

University of Pennsylvania swimmer Lia Thomas and Kentucky swimmer Riley Gaines react after finishing tied for 5th in the 200 Freestyle finals at the NCAA Swimming and Diving Championships on March 18th, 2022 at the McAuley Aquatic Center in Atlanta Georgia. (Rich von Biberstein/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

The survey also found that 40 percent of Americans say greater social acceptance of transgender people is "good for society," while 25 percent say it is "bad for society," and another 35 percent say it is neither.


The poll comes amid a heated national debate surrounding women's sports and fairness, spurred by the rise of now-former University of Pennsylvania swimmer Lia Thomas, a transgender woman, and her record-breaking wins competing on the women’s team. Thomas, who previously competed on the school’s men’s team, has insisted she doesn’t hold a competitive advantage over her female teammates.

Republican legislatures across the country have sought to protect women’s sports by banning trans athlete participation on women’s teams. Last week, Louisiana became the 18th state to require that schools separate teams according to the biological sex of the team members.