Abstract: The approval of the law for the real and effective equality of trans people and for the guarantee of the rights of LGTBI people (the Trans Law) has been one of the most controversial legislative actions in recent years; however, there is very little knowledge about the public’s perception of the issue and how they express their opinions in the public sphere. Supporters of the law consider that the free determination of gender is essential to end discrimination against trans people, while critics express hate speech that can be a precursor to violent actions. This work aims to fill a gap, studying the relationship between the perceptions of a controversial and polarizing issue and their public expression through social media. The main objective is to analyze the public’s perception, with special attention to age, gender, and political ideology, and compare it with the hate speech posted on Twitter. The methodology presents a survey of citizens and the use of computational methods to analyze Twitter messages with a machine-learning algorithm that classifies them as hate or not hate. The results indicate that the majority (80.1%) support the approval of the law, while those close to left and center political ideologies favor the law more than those who define themselves as right-wing. There are no significant differences according to age. Of the messages analyzed, 9.7% were classified as hate.
Keywords: hate speech; LGTBI; polarization; public perception; Spain; Trans Law; transphobia; Twitter