Less than half of people in Great Britain agree that transgender teenagers should be allowed to receive counselling and hormone treatment, polling suggests.
Britain placed 28th out of 30 countries for the proportion of people agreeing that teenagers with parental consent should be able to access “gender-affirming” care. Only Hungary, which banned transgender people from legally changing their gender in 2020, and the US recorded lower levels of support than Britain’s 47%.
Britain was also in the bottom half of the countries polled on the question of whether transgender people should be protected from discrimination in employment, housing and access to restaurants and shops, with almost one in four saying they disagreed with protections or were not sure.
Only 40% of people in Britain believe transgender people should be allowed to use single-sex facilities such as public toilets that correspond to the gender they identify with, compared with 55% across the 30-country average, 70% in Italy, 65% in Spain and the Netherlands and 79% in Thailand, which was consistently the most pro-transgender nation in the Ipsos survey.
It found nearly two in three people in Britain believe transgender people face a great deal or fair amount of discrimination.
The figures, gathered between February and March this year, follow a high-profile controversy over the NHS Gender Identity Development Service at the Tavistock and Portman NHS foundation trust in London, which offered therapy and hormone blockers for children. Inspections found it “inadequate” and it is due to close next year.
An independent review of the service by the paediatrician Dr Hilary Cass highlighted the lack of agreement “and in many instances a lack of open discussion” on the nature of “gender incongruence” in young people, and whether it was “an inherent and immutable phenomenon for which transition is the best option for the individual, or a more fluid and temporal response to a range of developmental, social, and psychological factors.”
The 2021 census of England and Wales found 262,000 people identified as a gender different to their sex registered at birth – 0.5% of the population that responded.
Responding to the polling, the LGBT+ anti-abuse charity Galop said hostility towards trans and non-binary people in the UK was growing.
“We have trans, non-binary and gender non-conforming people in our services who are deliberately dehydrating themselves to avoid using public toilets for fear of attack or harassment, as well as seeing butch cis women experiencing higher levels of hostility in single-sex public spaces,” said Leni Morris, the chief executive. “In the last six months, our services have seen a 74% increase in trans and non-binary people seeking support after experiencing transphobic hate crimes compared with the previous six months.”
An Ipsos spokesperson said: “Britons’ support for gender-affirming measures is mixed and falls in the bottom six of the 30 countries surveyed across a range of measures. Among the 30 countries covered, support for various pro-transgender measures is consistently high in Thailand, Italy, Spain and throughout Latin America; it tends to be lowest in South Korea, throughout eastern Europe, in Great Britain and in the United States, where transgender rights and protections have become polarising political issues.”
The LGBT Foundation, a charity, said: “Support for gender-affirming measures, which are transformative and life-saving, is at alarmingly low levels.”
It noted that the polling also showed a small reduction in support for same-sex marriage since 2021, although it was still a majority. “This seems to indicate a situation where the public is largely supportive of our communities but not always supportive of the measures that bring us equality,” it said.