Trans Day of Visibility: Majority of anti-trans adults don’t know a trans person in real life

by Just Like Us
March 2023

A trans Pride flag painted with chalk on a pavement

The majority (74%) of young adults who say they are not supportive of trans people don’t know a trans person in real life, according to new research by Just Like Us, the LGBT+ young people’s charity.

In a survey of 3,695 adults aged 18 to 25, 74% of those who described themselves as “not supportive” of trans people said they do not know anyone who is transgender. 

Two thirds (66%) of respondents said they know someone who is transgender, and 28% said this was someone they are close to.

If you know a trans person, you’re twice as likely to be an ally

The research also found that people who know a transgender person are twice as likely to be trans allies.

Of those who do not know any transgender people, just 33% described themselves as “very supportive” of trans people. However, this is compared to 64% of people who do know a trans person, whether they are close to them or not. 

Just 3% of people who know a trans person said they are “not supportive”, compared to 18% of those who do not have a trans person in their lives. 

Overall, 89% of LGBT+ young adults said they were “supportive” or “very supportive” of trans people, compared to 69% of non-LGBT+ young adults.

Lesbians are the most supportive of trans people

Of all LGBT+ identities, other than trans and non-binary people themselves, lesbian young adults were most likely to say they know a trans person (92%), and most likely to say they are “supportive” or “very supportive” of trans people (96%).

In comparison, 89% of LGBT+ people overall said they were  “supportive” or “very supportive” of trans people, and just 69% of non-LGBT+ people said the same. 

Just Like Us will publish a full report this June

The data forms part of a new report by Just Like Us (the LGBT+ young people’s charity) called Positive Futures, due to be published on 1 June. Just Like Us’ research was carried out independently by Cibyl in January 2023. 

The report will look at the experiences of young LGBT+ adults in the UK, covering a range of topics from their wellbeing, home life and time in school to their experiences in the world of work, as well as taking into account intersections like faith, race and disability.

Fear of the unknown is driving transphobia

Amy Ashenden, interim CEO of Just Like Us, the LGBT+ young people’s charity, said: “We hear so much in the news and daily life now that is negative about trans people, and now the research shows that much of this negativity stems from not even knowing a trans person in real life. 

“There is fear in the unknown and we need LGBT+ inclusive education in schools to remove the shame and stigma. Unfortunately, because trans people only make up 0.5% of the population in England and Wales, not many people actually know a trans person in real life and then they see fear mongering in the press or on social media and worry about something that is unknown to them. We desperately need better education so future generations don’t write off an entire community based on fears of the unknown.

“Negative attitudes towards trans people are incredibly damaging and have real-word effects – the trans young people we work with tell us daily the impact this negativity and fear mongering is having on their mental health and wellbeing. 

“It makes sense that the majority of people who describe themselves as unsupportive of trans people don’t even know a trans person. It also makes sense that knowing a trans person makes you twice as likely to be a trans ally. We’ve seen in the past how homophobia has been largely driven by fears of the unknown and sadly history is repeating itself.”

“I’m also delighted to see that lesbians are by far the most supportive of trans people. As a lesbian myself, I know just how supportive our community is towards our trans siblings and it’s fantastic to finally have the evidence to demonstrate this – lesbians and trans people stand in solidarity together. We always have done.”