Lack of Knowledge About Transgender People Hinders Acceptance in Lithuania

The latest study on attitudes towards transgender individuals in Lithuania revealed that while they were viewed in a somewhat positive light, the Lithuanian public generally lack knowledge about this social group.

Young, wealthy city dwellers clearer on what it means to be transgender

were asked if they knew what a “transgender person” was. Although 45.8% said that they did, 54.2% did not or were unsure. This knowledge was more prevalent among respondents that were educated, young, had higher incomes and lived in cities.

When asked to explain what a transgender person was, the respondents held differing views: 43% saw transgender individuals as people wishing or actively trying to change their gender (or having already done so), with 21.5% describing them as people who identify themselves as being of a different gender. 7.4% thought that transgender individuals are intersex, 7% saw them as transvestites, and 5.4% claimed that these people have simply not yet decided on their gender.

Information about transgender individuals was most often gleaned from the media (43%), friends, colleagues and relatives (19.1%), or online sources (18%).

Respondents unsure what pronouns to use

The lack of awareness about transgender people was best showcased by the responses to the request to select a pronoun for a trans woman. More than half (52.3%) were unsure whether to choose he or she, 19.9% would choose "he" and only 26.1% would use "she".

The study also sought to determine how the public saw transgender individuals in comparison to other social groups. The survey included questions about living in the same neighbourhood, working in the same workplace or renting a flat to transgender individuals.

Transgender people seen more favourably than homosexuals

Of those surveyed, 63% would be happy to work in the same workplace as a transgender individual, 49.6% would be happy to live in the same neighbourhood, and 38.1% would agree to rent a flat to a transgender individual. Transgender people were seen more favourably than homosexuals, Jehovah's Witnesses, Roma people, former convicts and the mentally disabled, but less favourably than Russian speakers, black people, Muslims and (in some cases) refugees.

In all cases, Russian speakers were the group least discriminated against, with the mentally disabled being the group most discriminated against.

Respondents were also asked how their relationship with a close friend would change if it came to light that he or she was transgender. In answer to this 39.5% said that the relationship would not be affected, 15% thought that it would worsen and 10% claimed that they would break ties altogether.

Finally, a study commissioned by the Office of the Equal Opportunities Ombudsperson found that almost half of those surveyed felt neutral about transgender individuals working in the same workplace, but more than 40% would feel uncomfortable is they worked in management positions or at schools.

The State of Transgender Individuals in Lithuania: A National Overview