A new study from the Pew Research Center finds that, among religious demographics, atheists are the group most likely to accept that someone can be transgender. The poll found that 71% of atheists surveyed agreed that a person’s sex does not determine their gender for life. Writing at the Friendly Atheist blog, Hemant Mehta says:

“To be sure, saying that only 29% of us reject the idea that someone can be transgender is nothing to celebrate. The number should be much, much lower. To be in that group means categorically denying everything trans people have ever said about their gender. It also means falling into the trap of saying people choose to be a man or a woman. That sentiment was wrong when it came to gays and lesbians and their sexual orientations, and it’s wrong now when talking about gender identity.”

It’s important for nontheists to recognize the reality of transgender people and the struggles facing the transgender community, especially when much of the prejudice against them comes from the religious right that stigmatizes nontheists. As Hemant points out, we have a ways to go toward fully accepting transgender people but this poll shows is a promising sign of progress.