The YouTube series Teens React recently captured the unfiltered, candid reactions of teenagers to Caitlyn Jenner, the transgender woman and famed Olympian who appeared on a recent Vanity Fair cover. And although the teens don't nail the pronoun usage for Jenner, all of the reactions suggest a very consistent theme: acceptance.
The closest thing to a negative comment in the video is some of the youth saying that trans people, who identify with a gender different than the one they were assigned at birth, aren't born identifying as the gender they are. (The research suggests that trans people's gender identity is biological or genetic.) But, in general, the teens in the video say that, even if they don't fully understand the issues, trans people should be allowed to live their lives however they want.
This video hints at a trend that's been common with LGBTQ issues: Younger generations are more accepting. And the polling backs this up: A survey conducted in June by YouGov found younger people are generally less likely to say that identifying with a gender different from the one assigned at birth is morally wrong, and more likely to say it's morally acceptable or not a moral issue. (Although a majority of all age groups appear to agree it's morally acceptable or not a moral issue.)
Part of this may reflect that younger people are simply more exposed to trans issues. One of the respondents in the video comments about how she learned a lot about trans people from the popular Netflix show Orange is the New Black, in which Laverne Cox — a trans woman — stars. Other shows, like Amazon's Transparent, have similarly exposed audiences to trans issues.
Advocates say this kind of cultural exposure is crucial to building support for trans people. To draw a parallel to the advancement of LGB rights, Americans became much more familiar with gay, lesbian, and bisexual issues thanks to the popularity of shows like Will and Grace, Queer as Folk, and Six Feet Under. And Freedom to Marry, the leading group in the fight for same-sex marriage, widely credits its success to awareness campaigns in which same-sex couples simply came out to their friends and families to show them that — except for sexual orientation — their relationships were entirely like those of other couples.
The result with same-sex marriage is younger generations were always more accepting of same-sex marriage rights, even as support built up among all age groups. Trans issues appear to be heading in a similar direction, especially as cultural icons like Jenner and Cox continue appearing in the media spotlight.