Janelle Wong is an Associate Professor of American Studies and the Director of Asian American Studies at University of Maryland in College Park, MD. Her research focuses on race, immigration, and political mobilization. Dr. Wong is the author of Democracy’s Promise: Immigrants and American Civic Institutions (2006, University of Michigan Press) and co-author of two books on Asian American politics. She is currently working on a book about the impact Asian American and Latino evangelical Christians will have on the traditional conservative Christian movement and immigrant political participation. Recently, PRRI had the opportunity to speak with Dr. Wong in depth about some of the 2014 American Values Survey’s findings on Asian Americans.
Last week, after Army Pfc. Bradley Manning was sentenced to 35 years in prison for charges including violations of the Espionage Act, Manning released a statement identifying himself as Chelsea and indicating a desire to transition from male to female. Since Manning’s announcement, there has been significant media attention about transgender issues, including definitions, pronoun use, and prison accommodations. Most Americans say they have a basic understanding of the term “transgender,” according to PRRI data. Seven-in-ten (70%) Americans say they know the meaning of the term transgender; 67% of Americans feel they are well informed about transgender people and issues. However, only about 1-in-10 (11%) Americans have a close friend or family member who identifies as transgender.
In addition to Americans saying they are aware of transgender issues, the majority of Americans support the extension of basic legal rights to people who are transgender. Almost 9-in-10 (89%) Americans agree that people who are transgender deserve the same rights and protections as other Americans. Eight-in-10 (81%) Americans believe that legal protections that apply to gay and lesbian people should also apply to people who are transgender. Three-quarters (75%) of Americans believe Congress should pass laws to protect people who are transgender from job discrimination.