Over a third of Britons don’t know that a transgender woman is biologically male, according to a new poll.
Policy analysis group Murray Blackburn Mackenzie (MBM) found that 35 percent wrongly believed that transgender women were born female, or they were “unsure.”
Confusion was even greater for the shortened term “trans woman,” with 40 percent either being unsure or believing it meant someone who was registered female at birth.
MBM said several media outlets—including the BBC and the Guardian—regularly used the terms without further explanation, and called on journalists to be more explicit when reporting gender terms.
As well as media bodies, the Edinburgh-based group said policymakers and polling companies “need to anticipate relatively high levels of misunderstanding and confusion” when using the terms, according to their findings
The report stated: “Using these terms, without spelling out what they mean for a person’s sex as matter of course, will leave a large minority of people at best uncertain.
“At worst, they will have a back-to-front understanding of what they are being told or asked.”
The Edinburgh-based group commissioned Survation to carry out separate polls for each term, of 1,008 and 1,026 UK adults, between June 15 and 19, and June 23 and 26 this year.
The report said that in many cases, the terms adopted by the media are as a result of lobbying from trans rights activists, who often claim it is discriminatory and offensive to refer to a transgender person’s biological sex.
However, MBM said the results of its poll showed there was a need for language to be more explicitly explained.
“The results of our polling show that to avoid confusion and misunderstanding, journalists and others need to spell out clearly what sex of a person is being referred to, in any context where sex matters,” it said.