The “Clueless Moderate” Gap

There’s a gap in the data, see. And I want to give this gap a name. Maybe the Clueless Moderate Gap?

I’ve written before on two topics: The tendency of Moderates to advocate for something in the abstract but oppose it in practice; and how Canadians supported affirmation of trans rights in the abstract but oppose them in practice.


CBC posts a rather optimistic article that perfectly demonstrates this gap.

Eighty-four per cent of people surveyed by the Angus Reid Institute said they would support adding gender identity as a prohibited ground for discrimination under the Canadian Human Rights Act — one of several questions in a poll on transgender issues where a firm majority said Canadians should “accept, accommodate, and move on.”

Then, not half a screen later…

Asked about a trans girl or trans boy using the washroom that corresponded with their gender identity, approximately 67 per cent said it was acceptable.

Right there. 84% saying they’re cool with trans rights, 67% saying they’re cool with trans bathroom access–and somehow, at least some people claiming to occupy one position but not the other despite the contradiction inherent thereof.

This is why I’m frustrated by this kind of reporting. 84% of respondents did not support trans rights, because some of those respondents still want to restrict our access to gendered facilities. That is the opposite of support. That’s throwing your weight behind the bathroom bill reactionaries. That’s eliminating our ability to go out in public. That’s putting us in danger. That is the fucking harmful status quo trans activists are trying to change.

Here’s what I want the next poll to do: Don’t ask people if they support explicit protections for trans folk. Instead, ask questions like “would you support a coworker or employee’s transition at the workplace?” “would you agree with letting trans folk share your facilities?” or “should trans women be imprisoned in men’s prisons [and vice versa]?” Then, instead of asking point blank whether trans people should be protected–which most people aren’t heartless enough to say “no” to–define “trans affirmation” as the logically consistent set of answers that actually supports us. 

I suspect you’ll take care of that Clueless Moderate Gap and paint a much clearer picture on the prevalence of transphobia, rather than shrugging and posting a useless feel good post about how accepting Canadians are–when they aren’t!



  1. blf says

    Whilst I concur with your sentiment & proposal, please allow me to suggest an alternative (but admittedly quite weak) possibility for the specific gap cited: That c.15% gap think that toilets should not be gendered; i.e., that they should be unisex. That is, they think the premise behind the second question is silly. (It is unlikely the poll had any meaningful way to express annoyance at its design, which is perhaps my own “beef” with most polls.)

    This is, of course, very weak. Despite a silly premise, the situation(gendered toilets) is real and does exist(sometimes for sensible reasons), so the question has validity. Plus numerous other criticisms which I won’t bother to enumerate.

    Apologies if I am babbling…

  2. says

    I have huge problems with surveys. Everywhere I look I see language that would manipulate my response (because that’s what language is FOR!) I.e.:
    “would you agree with letting trans folk share your facilities?”
    is very different from
    “would you share facilities with trans folk?”
    A social scientist would probably point out (rightly!) that analyzing those sorts of differences is what social science does. But you can’t analyze both those differences and learn anything about public attitudes with the same survey.

    I’d be OK if the survey was: “do you accept, accommodate, and move on?” and people answered that. Of course, then we’d be wondering what that means.

    (One of those disgruntled BA’s in psych who left the field because he concluded it was too full of B.S. and is now cheerfully watching the replication crisis obliterate what’s left)

  3. moarscienceplz says

    Obviously what is needed is that everyone who wants to use a public restroom must first be subjected to a deep psych evaluation to determine if they have any sexual attraction towards the group authorized to use the restroom in question. Of course, this would take many hours or even days to complete, so maybe it would be better to just outlaw public restrooms entirely.

    OTOH, I have been to crowded events in stadiums and convention centers where women used the men’s room because the line for the women’s room was ridiculouly long, and you know what? Nobody screamed, nobody fainted, and nobody was sexually assaulted.
    Inconceivable, right?

  4. says

    I don’t care who uses any particular restroom, as long as they don’t pee on the seat. A sensible division would be restrooms for people who pee on the seat and people who don’t.

    It seems to me that a lot of the people who are concerned with this have the impression that people come crane their necks over the divider so they can see the tip of someone’s penis while they urinate. Or maybe that the women’s bathrooms have cocaine dispensers and stripper poles and chippendales dancers or something. The reality is that toilets are about the same and come in only two kinds: the ones with pee on the seat, and the ones without.