Of course I couldn't include absolutely every possible GRA or gender-related question in the Scot Goes Pop / Panelbase poll. One question I had on my provisional list was about the issue of whether, as a million internet articles and YouTube videos will tell you, it's transphobic for lesbian women and heterosexual men to refuse to consider dating trans women. I wasn't at all sure that was one of the most important questions, and I thought about replacing it with a different question, perhaps about whether people who legally change their gender from male to female under the proposed new self-ID law should be eligible to participate in female-only shortlists or to fill positions reserved for women. However, there's just something about the unease and offence the dating question causes, and the way some people wish it would just go away, that in itself made me think it was worth asking. There have been suggestions that people being pressurised into dating or having sex with trans women isn't something that even happens in the real world, and that therefore this is a non-issue that nobody should be thinking about or inquiring about. But, just by complete chance, since the poll got underway, a BBC report has documented real-life examples of lesbian women feeling pressure to sleep with trans women. So this result is actually quite timely.
Scot Goes Pop / Panelbase poll (a representative sample of 1001 over-16s in Scotland was interviewed by Panelbase between 20th and 26th October 2021)
Some people argue that it is bigoted or transphobic for lesbian women or heterosexual men to refuse to consider dating individuals who have changed their gender from male to female. Others argue that being attracted only to individuals who have been biologically female since birth is a normal part of how sexual attraction works for many lesbian women and heterosexual men, and that it is wrong to pressurise people into dating individuals they are not attracted to. Which point of view do you find more persuasive?
It is wrong for lesbian women or heterosexual men to refuse to consider dating individuals who have changed their gender from male to female: 7%
It is wrong to pressurise lesbian women and heterosexual men to consider dating transgender people they are not attracted to: 65%
Don't Know / Prefer not to answer: 28%
This is actually the most overwhelming result in the whole poll, and one thing I find really interesting about it is that there's much less of a generation gap than there is on some of the other questions. It's true that under-35s are a bit more likely than older people to think that an individual is a bigot if they exclude trans women from their personal dating pool, but there's still a mammoth majority among young people (59% to 13%) who think that lesbian women and heterosexual men shouldn't be pressurised to date trans women if they don't feel any attraction. My guess is that the explanation is fairly simple: this is the question that the greatest number of people feel they have a personal stake in, and also have the best instinctive understanding of. Every individual knows how sexual attraction works for themselves. If they know in their heart of hearts that it's based on the biological sex of the other person rather than on gender identity, they're scarcely going to feel able to insist that the rest of the population is held to an entirely different standard.
The suggestion that "social barriers" or even "far-right impulses" are responsible for limiting trans women's access to the dating market is arguably, then, the weakest part of so-called gender ideology, because the truth or otherwise of it is not hidden behind a veil of mystery for most people - they know from their own personal experience that it just isn't reconcilable with the way the world actually works. We might think it's unfortunate or deeply unfair that sexual attraction works the way it does, but we also know that social engineering can't change it and that it's wholly unjust for anyone to be 'punished' or 'shamed' for it.
Once again, there's no major difference between men and women on this question. Women were somewhat more likely to say "don't know / prefer not to answer", but they also said by a 62% to 6% majority that people shouldn't be pressurised into dating trans women - very similar to the 68% to 9% majority among men.
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UPDATE: After the above results were published, there were a number of spurious (albeit determined) attempts on social media to discredit the wording of the question. Explanations of why that wording is balanced and appropriate can be found HERE and HERE.
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Via the embedded player below, you can watch my discussion last week with Denise Findlay about the issues raised by the poll.
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