The number of youth who identify as transgender has nearly doubled in recent years, according to a new report that captures a generational shift and the emerging social embrace of the diversity of gender identities.
The analysis, relying on government health surveys conducted from 2017 to 2020, estimated that 1.4 percent of 13- to 17-year-olds and 1.3 percent of 18- to 24-year-olds were transgender, compared to about 0.5 percent of all adults. Compared to .
Those figures have increased significantly since the researchers’ last report in 2017, although the analyzes used different methods.
Experts said language and social acceptance are increasingly common among young people to ascertain their gender identity, while older adults may feel more constrained. But the numbers, which vary widely from state to state, also call into question the role of peer influence or the political climate of the community.
“It’s developmentally appropriate for teens to explore all aspects of their identity — that’s what teens do,” said Dr. Angela Goeford, medical director of the Gender Health Program at Children’s Minnesota Hospital. who were not included in the new analysis. “And, over generations, gender has become a part of one’s identity that is more socially acceptable to explore.”
The perception of what it means to live as a transgender person is also changing. Dr. Goeford, who is non-binary, noted that many teens don’t necessarily want or need hormones or surgery to transition to another gender, as was typical for older generations.
Surveys maintained by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention did not ask young teens about non-binary or other gender identities, which has also been on the rise in recent years. But nearly a quarter of adults surveyed who said they were transgender identified as “gender non-conforming.”
“We as a culture just need to focus on the fact that there is gender diversity among us,” Dr. Goeford said. “And that doesn’t mean we need to treat it medically in all cases, but it does mean that we need to make room for it as a society.”
Although the overall estimated number of transgender people was small – about 1.6 million people 13 and over, or about 0.6 percent of the population – trans identity has become a political dynamite in recent years, driven by a rise in minors seeking medical treatment. Is. Republican legislators across the country have called for a crackdown on such care by criminalizing doctors or examining parents for abuse, which has been condemned by professional medical groups.
The new data was analyzed by researchers at the Williams Institute, a research center at the University of California, Los Angeles Law School, which produces highly regarded reports on the demographics, behavior, and policy concerns of the LGBTQ population in the United States.
The study found that 13 to 25 people accounted for a disproportionately large portion of the transgender population. While young teens made up just 7.6 percent of the total US population, they made up about 18 percent of transgender people. Similarly, 18 to 24 year olds make up 11 per cent of the total population but 24 per cent of the transgender population.
Older adults had a disproportionately small share: although 62 percent of the total population, only 47 percent were transgender people 25 to 64. And while 20 percent of Americans are over 65, that age group makes up only 10 percent of the total population of transgender people nationwide.
The Williams Institute used data from two national sources: the CDC’s Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, administered to adults across the country, and its Youth Risk Behavior Survey, delivered in high schools. The surveys, which were conducted either over the phone or in person, collect data on demographics as well as a variety of medical and behavioral information, such as smoking habits, HIV status, nutrition and exercise.
Starting in 2017, the high school survey included an optional question asking whether the student was transgender. From 2017 to 2020, 15 states included the question in their high school surveys, while 41 states included the question for adults at least once in that time period.
The Williams Institute used this data, along with statistical modeling of demographic and geographic variables, to arrive at its estimates of the transgender population across the country.
“It’s important to realize that trans people live everywhere in the United States and that trans people are part of communities across the country,” said lead author Jody Herman, senior scholar of public policy at the Williams Institute. of report. “We use the best available data, but we need more and better data all the time.”
The US Census Bureau began asking questions about sexual orientation and gender identity only last year, as part of a new data collection effort. And even national suicide statistics – important in this vulnerable population study – lack information about sexuality or gender identity.
Amit Pale, head of The Trevor Project, a suicide prevention group, recently released his report on Social, saying, “There is no one who knows how many trans people or how many gay or bisexual people died by suicide last year. ” Media surveys, indicating that young LGBTQ people had higher rates of mental health issues and suicidal thoughts.
“That data does not exist because it is not collected by the government in death records,” Mr Pale said. “It’s something we’re working to try to change.”
When their previous report was published in 2017, the Williams Institute researchers did not have actual survey data for young adolescents, instead using statistical modeling based on adult data. At the time, he estimated that there were 150,000 transgender teens in the country, or about 0.7 percent of teens.
With the inclusion of new high school survey data added in 2017, that estimate has now doubled to 300,000.
It is not clear whether this jump reflects inaccuracies in previous estimates, an actual increase in the number of transgender adolescents, or both.
Dr. Hermann said, “It is a perplexing question as to why all this is happening.”
The racial makeup of transgender adults and transgender adolescents was almost identical. About half of both groups were white, slightly less than the relative number of white people in the general population, and a disproportionately large number of each group identified as Latino.
The data also shows the distribution of trans people by state. New York has the largest estimated population of transgender teens at 3 percent, while Wyoming has the lowest at 0.6 percent. Transgender adults showed a narrow range, with 0.9 percent of adults identifying as transgender in North Carolina and 0.2 percent in Missouri.
Emphasis on restricting rights of young transgender people
a growing trend. Measures that change the lives of young transgender people are at the center of heated political debate across America. Here’s how some states are approaching the topic:
The numbers of teens were based on surveys collected in 15 states: Colorado, Delaware, Florida, Hawaii, Maryland, Maine, Michigan, New Jersey, Nevada, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Virginia, Vermont and Wisconsin. The researchers then used that survey data to build a model for how states and personal characteristics affect the likelihood of being transgender. Using that model, along with demographic data from the Census, they studied the other 35 states and Washington, DC. guessed for
Experts working with transgender teens agreed that certain social factors would undeniably play a role in their identity, as they did decades ago when gay and lesbian people were first exposed in large numbers.
“It marks a renewed confidence among a new generation to be authentic in their gender identity,” said Philip Hammack, a professor of psychology and director of the Sexual and Gender Diversity Lab at the University of California, Santa Cruz. “I think we saw something similar – we didn’t have exact numbers to back it up – as we saw more visibility around labeling ourselves as gay, lesbian, bisexual in the nineties.”
Recent Gallup polling data analyzed by the Williams Institute also found that young adults also make up a substantial portion of the total LGBTQ population in the United States, which likewise varies from state to state.
Social media has been an important catalyst for teens today to question their gender identity.
“I think a big part of it is definitely the internet,” said Indigo Giles, a 20-year-old college student in Austin who has protested an investigation into the abuse of parents of transgender children in the state of Texas.
MX. Giles said he realized he was non-binary after finding a community of like-minded people on Tumblr. “People who have probably been feeling these feelings for a long time, but don’t have the words to say it, may eventually find themselves in an easily accessible way to see those who feel the same way,” he said. .
And conversely, it may be more difficult for older people to ascertain their gender identity later in life.
Dr. Hammack described a man he interviewed who talked about how difficult it was to come out as non-binary in his fifties because “we look around, and everyone is so its small.” And others who identified as masculine or butchered homosexuals said, “If I was that short, I might have gone down that path, but it wasn’t available.”
Dr. Goeford of Children’s Hospital Minnesota pointed to another possible reason for the small proportion of older transgender people: due to low access to health care, as well as higher rates of HIV, violence and suicide, transgender people are more likely to die. Chances are young age.
“The harsh reality is that we don’t have trans elders because they didn’t live,” he said.