Sociology, Department of


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Published in The Sociological Quarterly 2023, vol. 64, no. 3, pp. 471–492.



Copyright © 2023 MSS; published by Routledge/Taylor & Francis Group. Used by permission


This article draws on sociological theories of affect and ambivalence to empirically examine individuals who express support for the rights of gays and lesbians but not transgender people. Using a representative survey of Nebraska residents and quantitative and qualitative analysis of close-ended and open-ended responses, we find that the group we call “inconsistents” are more similar demographically to consistent opponents, they outnumber consistent opponents, and that they rely on two types of logics to justify their views. For nearly all who oppose employment nondiscrimination and bathroom protections for transgender people, they use an identity logic to express skepticism, and often overt hostility, toward transgender identity. For most who oppose only bathroom protections but support employment nondiscrimination, they use a setting logic that emphasizes how social context determines when definitions of gender matter (like when using public restrooms). Our analysis shows that attitudes about LGBT rights are not dichotomous or always uniform and serves as a model to understand other contentious social issues.