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Approximately 1.6 million people ages 13 and older—0.6% of the population—identify as transgender in the United States, according to new estimates from the Williams Institute at UCLA School of Law. This includes 1.4% of youth ages 13-17 (about 300,000 youth) and 0.5% of adults (about 1.3 million adults).

Transgender individuals are younger on average than the general U.S. population. Nearly one in five people who identify as transgender (18%) are ages 13-17, compared to less than one in ten (8%) who are ages 13-17 in the general U.S. population.

Using data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS), the Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System (YRBS), and advanced statistical modeling, researchers estimated the population of adults and youth who identify as transgender nationally and in each of the 50 states, plus the District of Columbia. They also provide estimates regarding gender, age, and race/ethnicity.

This report updates previous Williams Institute estimates of the transgender population released in 2016 and 2017. Results show that the percentage and number of adults who identify as transgender in the U.S. has remained steady over time. With the availability of better data, our estimate of the number of youth who identify as transgender has doubled from our previous estimate.

“Advances in gender identity data collection over the past five years have provided a more accurate picture of youth in the U.S. who identify as transgender. Previously, we could only estimate that based on adult data,” said lead author Jody L. Herman, Senior Scholar of Public Policy at the Williams Institute. “These new estimates show us that current policy debates regarding access to gender-affirming care and the ability to participate in team sports likely impact more youth than we previously thought.”

ADDITIONAL FINDINGS

  • Of the 1.3 million adults in the U.S. who identify as transgender, 38.5% (515,200) are transgender women, 35.9% (480,000) are transgender men, and 25.6% (341,800) reported they are gender non-conforming.
  • Transgender individuals are younger on average than the U.S. population. Youth ages 13 to 17 are significantly more likely to identify as transgender (1.4%) than adults ages 65 or older (0.3%).
  • Adults and youth who identify as transgender in the U.S. reside in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. Regionally,
    • 253,800 adults and 61,700 youth identify as transgender in the Northeast
    • 328,500 adults and 81,700 youth identify as transgender in the West
    • 523,600 adults and 102,200 youth identify as transgender in the South
    • 231,200 adults and 54,500 youth identify as transgender in the Midwest
  • At the state level, estimates range from 0.9% of adults who identify as transgender in North Carolina to 0.2% in Missouri. Among youth, estimates range from 3.0% who identify as transgender in New York to 0.6% in Wyoming.
  • At the national level, racial and ethnic distribution of adults and youth appear similar to the racial/ethnic distribution of the U.S. population. This study provides the first-ever population estimates of Asian and American Indian/Alaska Native adults and youth who identify as transgender.
    • White: 0.5% (731,200) of adults and 1.3% (138,800) of youth identify as transgender
    • Black: 0.6% (173,500) of adults and 1.4% (39,600) of youth identify as transgender
    • Latinx: 0.7% (289,700) of adults and 1.8% (92,900) of youth identify as transgender
    • Asian: 0.5% (77,300) of adults and 1.0% (10,800) of youth identify as transgender
    • American Indian/Alaska Native: 0.9% (14,500) of adults and 1.8% (3,000) of youth identify as transgender
    • Multiracial: 1.0% (50,900) of adults and 1.5% (15,000) of youth identify as transgender

“Better collection of data about transgender people on federal surveys is vital to understand the characteristics, experiences, well-being, and needs of the transgender population in the United States,” said study author Andrew R. Flores, Visiting Scholar at the Williams Institute. “The CDC should make the YRBS and BRFSS gender identity questions part of the core survey rather than optional questions, and the U.S. government should include questions to identify transgender people in all federal surveys.”

Read the report 
Access the data interactive

The Williams Institute at UCLA School of Law, a think tank on sexual orientation and gender identity law and public policy, is dedicated to conducting rigorous, independent research with real-world relevance.