By Ellen Wulfhorst
NEW YORK, June 11 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - Most Americans believe transgender people should be allowed in the military despite government efforts to ban them, research showed on Tuesday, indicating growing support for trans rights.
But about a quarter of Americans said they have grown more opposed to trans rights in the last five years, according to the survey by the Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI), a Washington-based polling group.
"For Americans, the people in power - the Trump administration creating these policies - is not necessarily representative of what most people actually want and what people actually think," said Natalie Jackson, PRRI's research director.
The administration of President Donald Trump has in the last two years moved to ban transgender people from the military and to weaken discrimination protections in schools and workplaces.
The Democratic-controlled U.S. House of Representatives last month passed the Equality Act that would fortify protections for LGBT+ people in health care and housing but the bill faces stiff opposition in the Republican-controlled Senate.
In the survey, 62% of Americans across much of the political spectrum - including evangelical Christians and Trump supporters - described themselves as more supportive of rights for transgender people over the last five years.
"That's in spite of current administration actions," Jackson told the Thomson Reuters Foundation, adding that support had increased as transgender issues have grown more prominent.
The remaining 13% surveyed said their views on trans rights remained the same or that they did not know.
Almost two-thirds of the 1,100 people surveyed said they supported transgender military service, including about half of those who said they viewed Trump favorably.
Americans were about evenly divided over whether transgender people should use bathrooms consistent with their sex assigned at birth or with their gender identity.
Less than a quarter of Americans reported having a close friend or family member who was transgender, compared to nearly seven in 10 who had a close gay or lesbian friend or relative.
(Reporting by Ellen Wulfhorst, Editing by Katy Migiro. Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers humanitarian news, women's and LGBT+ rights, human trafficking, property rights and climate change. Visit http://news.trust.org)
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