How many trans persons are there in the United States?
The truth is: Nobody knows or can know. My best-guess figures are at the end.
NUMBERS OTHERS HAVE ESTIMATED
PROBLEMS IN ESTIMATING
MY PREVALENCE GUESSWORK
NUMBERS OTHERS HAVE ESTIMATED
We can’t even agree on what transgenderism and transsexualism are, let alone where to set parameters for determination. I will give some estimates and reasons for my numbers below—but first, there is some guess work that’s been offered by others for numbers in the United States. NOTE: These estimations all relate to their method and the year. Trans people have been coming out at a faster rate.
The Williams Institute, UCLA Law, estimated as of June 2016: 1.4 million for all trans people in the U.S. (The Williams Institute, UCLA Law, also estimates in 2014 that 15,500 trans people are in the U.S. military.)
The National Institute of Health estimated, through 2016 “…almost 1 million adults” for all trans people.
Personally, I think these numbers are low for transgenderism (also neutrois, fluid, agender…). Because they have been coming out more in recent years, I tend to rather double or triple the figures.
In looking at prevalence, definitions and parameters matter, and because definitions of what transsexualism even is and because transsexualism is usually conflated with transgenderism, prevalence data is impossible to discern.
Some people (including me) argue that transsexualism is not a subset of transgenderism, that sex and gender are different things. If medical science were able and if trans people were open with the truth of our sexualitiy and need to be the other physical sex, it would be clear that the need to be the other biological sex is different from needing to be somewhere on a gender continuum but not the other biological sex. Nonetheless, and realizing other researchers, groups, organizations, and nationalities vary on their terms and definitions, I’ll share the paper of Conway and Olyslager in 2007 for prevalence of transsexualism: Walinder in 1968 guessed 1:37,000 to 1:103,000; Hoenig in 1974 1:34,000; Elklund in 1988 1:18,000-1:200,000; Bakker in 1993 1:11,900-1:30,400; and Conway and Olyslager reported a mathematical extrapolation in 2007 suggesting 1:500-ish, which I believe is unrealistic.
PROBLEMS IN ESTIMATING:
• There is no way to know what is in a person’s mind, nor even usually in the body. Trans people sometimes mislead—even to doctors and government officials—to imply we have something we don’t; sometimes we mislead to imply we don’t have what we do.
• Numbers of this or that depend on DEFINITIONS, which are argued incessantly. There are arguments about what is transsexual vs. transgender, whether they’re separate phenomena or not. What if they live continuously as the other gender but don’t take hormones? What about hormones taken, but not living openly as the other gender? Partially on both? Are cross dressers to be considered “transgender”? They are not trying to change sex, but they do engage in the social expression of the “other” gender…
• What are PARAMETERS of groups in which people are counted? Everyone sets their own and are arbitrary. Setting one group of parameters can easily double the figure obtained, or half it.
• What is “transsexual”? Full gender change with SRS to attempt the other binary physical sex? What if partial gender change of secondary sex characteristics and no attempt to change physical genital sex, only breast augmentation cited as “Gender Confirmation Surgery.” What if sex change is truly needed but can’t be obtained? What if SRS is attained but being the other physical sex is not actually the goal? What if a trans woman has an orchiectomy (removal of testes) yet retains a penis…
• People GO OUTSIDE THE U.S. FOR SURGERY without telling people; some come to the U.S. for SRS then move back home. Estimates of surgeon output are unreliable at best.
• Trans PEOPLE OFTEN DISTORT their mental or physical nature or status, personal issues may be denied or changed, usually for social acceptability, to avoid stigma, fear of rejection. My experience is there’s a lot of misdirection going on when talking with muggles or for their edification, such as being seen as possibly transsexual or with SRS to minimize the likelihood of rejection (think bathrooms, family, co-workers…). Different info is attained when perceived as an insider or in an intimate circle. It is no small issue, sex or gender transition. We’re unwanted minorities and much smaller than those of race or even sex orientation (gay), with little social support—and then, when social support is given, it is often for one group over another.
• What is the difference between sex and gender? We even argue over something as basic as that. One person’s view is change in gender includes physical sex; another person’s view is it does not.
• SURVEYS ARE INVALID. I’ve referred to some, now and then, too, as an idea of what may exist and to suggest others are working on this, but in reality, this is an area where trans people are extraordinarily private, often with feelings of shame or guilt. Many of us have been abused as children, have faced oppressions in daily life we play down, and—especially in this modern age of shared data—are suspicious of other people gathering data, where that data will go, and how they will use it. The loss of privacy has caused a lot of people to clam up. Even if the government asked as part of the census, the truth would not be shared by many of us.
• Problems in MEDIA REPORTING: Radical trans activists slamming reporters for asking about which genitalia are desired, do they still work, do they use them during sex; reporters/media take perspectives on the “transgender” social movement as there were no other—skewed public perception.
If someone includes cross dressers as part of an overall “umbrella” of “transgender” (they change gender expectations) then a large percentage of the country should be included. It’s popular.
If we include people who need transition of either sex or gender, yet who do not openly express, then we’re off the map, wildly guessing. I believe there are Many trans people who still have not come out.
MY PREVALENCE GUESSWORK—Working With the Numbers:
With this, my working figure is that transgenders out number transsexuals by 20 or 30 to one. It’s certain I’m wrong, but I do think it’s in the ballpark, which is as close as anyone can get.
Sorry for the vague numbers, but my guess is transgenders (B) are a few million; transsexuals (A) are in the low 6 figures; likely more transsexuals (A) than “transgenders with an extra surgery” (D); and for an umbrella term, I’d guess that few million still for an overall transgenders (C); and if cross dressers (other gender role attire) are included, then it’s many more millions.
If going with A, B, C, and/or D, we’re small at any rate. Here is Census Bureau info.
These numbers are (as described above) wrong, but conceptually:
TRANSGENDERS (B, going with significant ideation and/or living somewhat in the other gender role “somewhere on a continuum where [I] feel more comfortable”: If 3,000,000 / 330,000,000 then it’s about 0.009—0.9% of the population of America.
TRANSSEXUALS (need to be the other physical sex as demonstrated with SRS per A): If 100,000 / 330,000,000 then it’s about 0.0003—0.03% of the population of America.
GAYS: The public may think Americans are 23% gay, but Gallup polling suggests it may be more like 3.8%… There are similar problems in guessing prevalence of LGB, as well as TG, T, or CD. Remember American suspiciousness of disclosure, where data goes… I think gay, or significant gay or bi ideation, is closer to 10% of the population, just not reporting/out. I admit I don’t know. No one does.
Our trans person minorities are microscopic, compared to other minorities. We also suffer hate crimes, discriminations, oppressions, prejudice (veiled and open), and we also have such a microscopic support system. To compare, substitute another minority for “trans” and see how it sounds.
Which means we likely have comparatively less social support in many areas of life.
And whatever the truths are, transsexuals are being pressured to disavow our need to be the other physical sex / genitalia / sexual response as the opposite biologic sex and claim we are about gender. See here, here, and here. And in my case, for research taken from Electronic Health Records (EHR), after physicians lying to me for 20 years that I needed a Pap smear, and after another doctor told me that was likely a false reason given out of curiosity or to look, feeling humiliated, abused or sexually assaulted, I no longer drop my pants for them if it’s not required. I’ve since known some to believe I never had SRS, as some transgenders (B) are known to misrepresent, so here’s one example of misinformation in the medical records.
Counting us is going to be very difficult.