Sunday, October 31, 2021

SCOT GOES POP / PANELBASE POLL: Substantial majority think people who change their legal gender from male to female by self-ID should not have full access to female-only spaces

The first GRA-related question from the Scot Goes Pop / Panelbase poll demonstrated that there is only relatively modest minority support for the government's plan to introduce gender self-identification in Scotland.  However, the results on that question gave us no indication of the reasons for the majority being opposed to the plan.  It may be that people simply object to individuals having the personal comfort or satisfaction of obtaining official documents that reflect their own gender identity - in which case the oft-heard charge that such attitudes are intolerant or bigoted might have some justification.  However, it's equally possible that the public's opposition to self-ID is due to concerns that a change in legal gender could confer individuals with new, concrete, real world rights that would conflict with the rights of others or have a detrimental effect on society at large.  The example usually cited is the impact upon the ability of women to organise as a sex-based class, and to maintain spaces for the exclusive use of biological females. Part of the purpose of the second GRA question in the poll is to discover whether these worries exist, and if so, how widespread they are.

Scot Goes Pop / Panelbase poll (a representative sample of 1001 over-16s in Scotland was interviewed by Panelbase between 20th and 26th October 2021)

If the law is changed in Scotland to allow people to legally change their gender without a medical diagnosis of gender dysphoria, do you think biological males who legally become female under the new rules should be allowed to access female-only spaces, such as changing rooms, toilets, hospital wards and women's refuges, in exactly the same way as all other women?

Yes, they should: 22%
No, they shouldn't: 54%

First of all, just a couple of notes on the context and wording of this question.  It was asked immediately after the main self-ID question, so the explanation of the change in the law that the government are planning will have been fresh in the minds of respondents.  The words "in exactly the same way" were used because the position of self-ID proponents is that "trans women are women", ie. that there is no distinction between trans women and individuals who have been biologically female since birth, and that both groups should therefore be perceived and treated identically.  So the results on this question don't necessarily exclude the possibility that people think that individuals who have changed their legal gender (by self-ID) from male to female should have some access to female-only spaces, but that it should fall short of "exactly the same" access as all other women.

Clearly these numbers identify one of the key concerns that the government would have to address if voters' opposition to self-ID is to be reversed.  Potentially there is scope for a compromise that the public can embrace, if individuals are allowed to have the gender on their documents changed while still being subject to some limitations on the single-sex spaces they can access.  However, the government have effectively ruled out making any such concessions of substance, instead saying they will assuage concerns by clearing up the 'misunderstandings' and 'misapprehensions' about the impact of self-ID on women's rights.  The snag is that it's by no means clear that any misapprehensions exist.  If they do not want to compromise, the government would perhaps be better advised to attempt to lead and win a public debate about why trans rights must prevail in any conflict with women's sex-based rights, or indeed why rights based on biological sex are an outmoded concept - but, for now, debate is something they're avoiding at all costs.  Instead, the fiction is that no conflict of rights exist, and that no conflict of rights is even possible.

Once again, there's no real difference between the views of men and women on the question of access to female-only spaces.  Men are a bit more hostile to the idea, but the difference is very slight, with women also opposed by the hefty margin of 52% to 23%.  As on the main self-ID question, the more significant differences are to be found between the generations, and between supporters of different political parties.  Under-35s are practically split down the middle, with 36% in favour of equal access for trans women, and 37% opposed.  That contrasts sharply with over-55s, who are opposed to equal access by the enormous margin of 65% to 13%.  

Tory and Lib Dem voters are significantly more united in their opposition than their SNP and Labour counterparts.  The mystery of the Lib Dem results continues, because just 4% of what you'd think would be a socially liberal sample of people are in favour of letting trans women into female-only spaces on the same basis of other women, with a whopping 66% against.  As I said the other day, the only explanations I can think of are either that the Lib Dem voters surveyed were predominantly Tories who voted for the Lib Dems tactically, or that the subsample of Lib Dem voters is not entirely reliable due to its small size.

However, there are substantial pluralities against equal access among voters of all parties.  The closest result - and it's not really all that close - is among SNP voters, who split 31% in favour, 44% against.

SCOT GOES POP POLLING FUNDRAISER: I hope you'll bear with me as I continue to heavily promote the new fundraiser, but as I've explained a few times, the crowdfunding for this current poll did not meet the full amount required, and I'm having to cover the shortfall with my own money.  So running any future Scot Goes Pop polling - on independence or other Scottish political issues - will be pretty much impossible unless we reach the £6500 target figure, or at least get very close to it.  At present we're more than 40% of the way towards the target, so a million thanks to everyone who has made donations so far.  I know times are really tough at the moment, but as I noted the other day, thousands of people read Scot Goes Pop every week, and if just 10% of those people were to donate just £10, the target figure would be reached straight away.  Of course some people can't donate for very good reasons, but one really helpful thing you can do is to share the fundraiser page and spread the word with your friends and family.

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  1. Don't male to female transitioners realise that as women they'll be earning 20% less than men, even though equal pay was made law in 1967?

  2. Thanks for commissioning this very important survey James.
    It remains to be seen if the SG intends releasing the general'Public' responses to to last year's Consultation (as opposed to the already published 'Organisations' views).
    The bottom line is I might expect the result to be very similar to your poll.If there had been resounding support for Self ID, I feel sure, by now we'd have heard all about it.