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20th May 2024
Only a Quarter of Lithuanians Would Support Their Transgender Child, Survey Reveals

A recent representative survey commissioned by the Office of the Equal Opportunities Ombudsperson (OEOO) revealed that only a quarter of residents in Lithuania would support their transgender child. Additionally, while 60% of respondents say they understand who transgender people are, less than half would rent a home to a transgender person.

The OEOO previously conducted a similar survey in 2018, allowing for a comparison of changes in public opinion over six years.

Increased Awareness of Transgender People

The survey indicates an increase in understanding among Lithuanians of what it means to be transgender. In 2018, 48% of respondents were familiar with the term ‘transgender person’; this year, that number rose to 60%. The most knowledgeable demographics are individuals aged 18-35, the highly educated, and residents of large cities.

However, even those who claim to know the term often hold stereotypical views. When asked to describe a transgender person, many participants said it is someone who has changed their biological sex through surgery.

“It is disappointing that society still often links being transgender with medical transition. The reality is much more diverse; medical transition does not define a person’s identity. Some people choose to undergo various gender confirmation procedures, others do not have such expectations for the transition, and others’ opportunities are determined by factors such as the availability of services and finances,” says Ieva Laugalytė, senior advisor at the Office of the Equal Opportunities Ombudsperson.

Most Lithuanians learn about transgender people on the internet (53%) and in the media (47%). Over the past six years, the internet’s role as a source of information has grown significantly, up from 18% in 2018.

Persistent Negative Attitudes

The survey results reveal that negative attitudes towards transgender people persist. Most respondents would react positively or neutrally to a transgender person in their workplace (68%) or neighborhood (67%). However, acceptance drops if the transgender person holds a leading position in the government (51%) or works at a school attended by respondents’ children (51%). Additionally, 23% would not rent a home to a transgender person.

“Paradoxically, more than half of the respondents believe that transgender people in Lithuania rarely or very rarely face difficulties due to negative societal attitudes. Yet, these same respondents acknowledge challenges for transgender individuals in finding jobs or renting apartments, and many wouldn’t want a transgender colleague or neighbor. Unfortunately, many residents do not connect their personal attitude or actions with the real impact on the lived experiences of transgender people”,  notes Ieva Laugalytė.

Positive Changes Noted

While there are some positive trends compared to 2018, these changes are mostly minor. For instance, 55% of respondents in 2024 said their relationship with a close friend would remain unchanged if they found out the friend is transgender, up from 40% in 2018.

In response to learning about their child’s transgender identity, 25% of survey participants would support them, compared to 20% in 2018. Additionally, the number of people who would seek information in such a case increased from 22% to 32% over six years.

There is also a shift in opinion regarding state protection of transgender rights. In 2018, 12% of survey participants believed the state should do more. In 2024, 26% felt the state should ensure better protection against discrimination in employment, public and health services, and education.

“It is worth noting that 53% of respondents doubt or do not know whether Lithuanian laws sufficiently protect transgender persons from discrimination. This shows a lack of public understanding of the experiences of transgender people, both due to insufficient legislation and negative public attitudes. This highlights shortcomings in the education system, media representation, and the exploitation of fictitious narratives about transgender people for political purposes,” says Ieva Laugalytė.

A representative survey of the Lithuanian population was conducted on February 18-25, 2024, by “Spinter Research,” involving 1010 individuals over the age of 18. The 2018 survey was conducted by the public opinion and market research center “Vilmorus.”

The survey is a part of the project Centering the Voices of Transgender People, carried out together with the Equality and Anti-Discrimination Ombud in Norway

The project is funded by EEA and Norway Grants.