Undergraduate Honors Theses

Thesis Defended

Spring 2017

Document Type

Thesis

Type of Thesis

Departmental Honors

Department

Political Science

First Advisor

Edward Adler

Second Advisor

Anand Sokhey

Third Advisor

Robert Buffington

Abstract

Issues concerning transgender rights have become more salient in the present-day political atmosphere; this is largely due to well-publicized ordinances which restrict bathroom use per an individual’s assigned gender at birth. While transgender individuals make up a small minority of the population, their rights and treatment by society sit at the front of civil rights debates. In this study, I evaluate possible factors associated with the public’s support or opposition to the implementation of transgender rights policies. First, using original pre-election survey data collected from citizens in the state of Colorado, I examine how elements like party identification and policy stances shape individuals’ opinions on bathroom laws. Then, using data from the American National Election Studies (ANES) 2016 Pilot Survey, I examine how similar elements shape individuals’ feelings towards transgender individuals, broadening my focus to the American (rather than Colorado) public. In both cases, I find that party identification and religious practice play roles in shaping public opinion. In the end, my study helps contribute to research on transgender policy, as most public opinion work has been focused on issues of gay and lesbian rights. Creating an understanding of this and other identity groups in society will help make democracy function properly in a large and diverse country like the United States.

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