A recent survey found that approximately 9 out of 10 Americans, including strong majorities of all religious, believe that transgender people deserve the same rights and protections as other Americans.

The survey (PDF) of more than 2,000 adults was conducted by Public Religion Research Institute in August and September.

“Three out of four Americans say Congress should pass employment nondiscrimination laws that protect transgender people,” said Dr. Robert P. Jones, CEO of Public Religion Research Institute. “This strong support is also broad, persisting across party lines and the religious spectrum.”

There is currently no federal law that prohibits all forms of discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

Seventy-four percent of Americans favor the Matthew Shepard Act, which expanded the 1969 United States federal hate-crime law to include crimes motivated by a victim’s actual or perceived gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, or disability. Only 22 percent oppose it.

Support for the legislation was lowest among Republicans, at 56 percent, and highest among Democrats, at 84 percent.

The survey also examined how well American's conceptualized transgender people.

“To explore whether Americans know what the term ‘transgender’ means, we allowed them to define ‘transgender’ in their own words,” Daniel Cox, PRRI Research Director, explained. “More than two-thirds of Americans were able to give an essentially accurate definition of the term ‘transgender’ without any assistance.”

Eleven percent of Americans said that they have a close friend or family member who is transgender.

Photo credit: Rajvinoth Jothineelakandan