May 26 (UPI) -- A majority of Americans believe that birth gender, rather than gender identity, should govern participation in competitive sports, according to a new Gallup survey.
While 61% of Americans favor allowing openly transgender men and women to serve in the U.S. military, 62% say trans athletes should only be allowed to play on sports teams that correspond with their birth gender.
According to Gallup's annual Values and Beliefs survey conducted May 3-18, 84% of Democrats favor allowing openly transgender service members in the military compared to 43% of Republicans.
Political independents, meanwhile, have become less supportive than they were in 2019 -- down 12 percentage points, Gallup reported. "Still, two in three self-identifying independents favor allowing openly trans people to serve."
As for playing on sports teams, 55% of Democrats support transgender athletes' ability to play on teams matching their gender identity.
Gallup said 3 in 10 Americans report having a friend, relative or colleague who is transgender. That rate falls with each older age cohort.
"On one hand, strong majorities of Americans have supported transgender people's right to openly serve in the military. Viewed alongside support for allowing openly gay and lesbian people to serve in the 'don't ask, don't tell' era, it's fair to say that most Americans believe that people who want to defend and fight for the U.S. should be allowed to, regardless of their identity," Gallup reported.
"On the other hand, the increasing rate of trans-identification among U.S. youth is challenging norms in ways that many Americans are not ready to question."
On March 31, the Pentagon restored policies, reversed in the Trump administration, that prohibit the military from discrimination on the basis of gender identity following an executive order from President Joe Biden.