We enumerate 1035 user comments from 190 online articles to gauge public opinion about safety and privacy when transgender women use female bathrooms. In these comments, we find that cisgender males are around 1.55× as likely to express concern about safety and privacy as cisgender females. Moreover, we find that when expressing concern (a) cisgender females are around 4× as likely as cisgender males to assert that transgender women do not directly cause their safety and privacy concerns, typically emphasizing their concerns are about ‘perverts’ posing as transgender females, and (b) cisgender males are around 1.5× as likely as cisgender females to assert that transgender females directly cause their safety and privacy concerns. We theorize that the heightened concern seen in males in these comments stems from them being more likely to view transgender females not as females, but as males who are lying or mistaken about their gender, and consequently they view themselves as protecting females from these males intruding into private, female-only spaces. This may be further exacerbated by a fear of deception and a belief that transgender people are mentally ill or ‘sick’.
- Gender identity
- Public attitudes