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Wisconsin Watch partners with Gigafact to produce fact briefs — bite-sized fact checks of trending claims. Read our methodology to learn how we check claims.


“Transgender women are not ‘real women’ ” was one of the statements 3,200 University of Wisconsin-Madison students were asked to rate their agreement with in a survey.

Sent to UW intramural and club sports athletes on Oct. 9, the survey was conducted by University of Indiana researcher Dr. Austin Anderson and polled students on their views on transgender athletic participation, as first reported by the Daily Cardinal.

A copy of the survey obtained by Wisconsin Watch showed questions about whether transgender athletes should participate in campus recreational sports programs according to their current gender identity or their sex assigned at birth.

It also asked students to rate how strongly they agreed or disagreed with statements, including that transgender men and women “will never really be” men or women, that transgender men and women “are unable to accept who they are” and that transgender men and women “are emotionally unstable,” among others.

This Fact Brief is responsive to conversations such as this one.

Sources Athletics research survey sent to UW-Madison students asks if trans women are ‘real women’

Google Drive: “Attitudes Toward Transgender Participation in Campus Recreational Sports”surveyquestion.png

Google Drive: “Attitudes Toward Transgender Participation in Campus Recreational Sports”surveyrealwomenquestion.png.png

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Rachel Hale joined Wisconsin Watch as a reporting intern in June 2023. She is currently a student at the University of Wisconsin-Madison studying Journalism and Political Science with certificates in Jewish studies and Middle East studies. Rachel previously worked at The Forward and The Times of Israel and was a member of the POLITICO Journalism Institute’s 2023 cohort. She is interested in reporting that spans the intersection of cultural identity and political impact.