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Transgender persons, transsexuals, & gender identity

Estimates of the number of
transgender persons in the U.S.

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Measurement of the number of transgender persons:

The number is measured or estimated in various ways, based on the number of:

bullet Persons experiencing gender dysphoria.

bullet Persons who have socially transitioned to their perceived gender.

bullet Transsexual people who have sought medical or counseling help.

bullet Patients who have undergone hormone therapy.

bullet Patients who would like to have Gender Reassignment Surgery (GRS)

bullet The number of patients who have actually undergone GRS.

Unfortunately, these criteria give very different results.

As society becomes more tolerant and understanding of transsexuality, as treatments progress, and as GRS, puberty blocking, and hormone treatments become more generally available, more existing transsexuals will probably come out of the closet and be counted. Thus the apparent number of transsexuals will probably appear to increase significantly in the future.

Estimates of the prevalence of transsexuality:

One obvious factor is the rapid rise in the prevelance of transsexuality over time, as specialists realize that the condition is far more common that was originally believed.

bullet J Walinder made the first systematic study of transsexualism in 1968 . He concluded that the "... minimum total of transsexuals in Sweden on DEC-31, 1965 was 1:37,000 male to female transsexuals and 1:103,000 female to male transsexuals. However, he noted that his estimates may well be grossly underestimated because there was no generally accepted definition of "transsexual," only small sample sizes were available, available treatments were fairly recent when compared to a person's life span, and the difficulty of gathering data because many transsexual people had not approached therapists. 5

bullet Wikipedia reported:

"There are no reliable statistics on the prevalence of transsexualism. The DSM-IV (1994) quotes prevalence of roughly 1 in 30,000 assigned males and 1 in 100,000 assigned females seek gender reassignment surgery in the USA."

"One detailed estimate of the incidence of transsexuality is from the Amsterdam Gender Dysphoria Clinic. The data, spanning more than four decades in which the clinic has treated roughly 95% of Dutch transsexuals, gives figures of 1:10,000 birth-assigned males and 1:30,000 assigned females."

"Other bodies report figures of between 1:1000 or even 1:500."

"No consensus has been agreed upon. Some interest groups maintain this is probably because of various governments' unwillingness to fund treatment accordingly." 1

bullet P. Wilson, et al. conducted a study among all general practitioners in Scotland during the late 1990s. Among patients over the age of 15, the study found a prevalence of 1 per 12,200 patients with an approximate sex-ratio of 4 MTF (male-to-female) to each FTM (female-to-male) patient. They noted that:

"One-third of gender-dysphoric patients known to practices had registered in the preceding 12 months, suggesting that patients with this condition are increasingly likely to present for medical care." 2

bullet F. Olyslager and L. Conway attempted to obtain a reliable estimate of the prevalence of MTF transsexualism -- the most common type. Their analysis of past studies came up with an estimated prevalence of:

bullet Prevalance of GRS: 1 in 4,500 to 1 in 2,000

bullet Prevalence of persons who want GRS: 1 in 2,000 to 1 in 1,000

But their analysis of more recent reports found:

bullet 1 in 500 individuals want GRS!

They concluded that:

"Transsexuality is not that uncommon!"

They felt that it is important that these data be generally recognized in order to improve health care for transgender people. 3

During 2007-SEP, Olyslager and Conway presented a paper at the World Professional Association for Transgender Health (WPATH) international symposium in Chicago IL. The abstract of the paper states:

"The most-cited estimates of the prevalence of transsexualism are based on counts of gender reassignments in European clinics many years ago. Observing that reassignments have been in a 'start-up transient,' we extend those results by recalculating prevalence from the accumulating incidence data, taking into account birth, reassignment and death rates -- and then based on age-distributions of reassignment data, we determine the inherent number of persons who at some point inlife will undergo reassignment.

From this reanalysis of those early reports, we determine lower-bounds on the prevalence of the underlying condition of transsexualism to be between 1:1000 and 1:2000, using these reports' own data. We then present more recent incidence data and alternative methods for estimating the prevalence of transsexualism, all of which indicate that the lower bound on the prevalence of transexualism is at least 1:500, and possibly higher." 4

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More recent estimates on the number of transgender persons:

  • 2011-APR: Gary J. Gates of the Williams Institute at the University of California, Los Angeles wrote:

    "This research brief discusses challenges associated with collecting better information about the LGBT community and reviews eleven recent US and international surveys that ask sexual orientation or gender identity questions. The brief concludes with estimates of the size of the LGBT population in the United States.
    Key findings from the research brief are as follows:

    • An estimated 3.5% of adults in the United States identify as lesbian, gay, or bisexual and an estimated 0.3% of adults are transgender. ..."
    • "Estimates of those who report any lifetime same-sex sexual behavior and any same-sex sexual attraction are substantially higher than estimates of those who identify as LGB. An estimated 19 million Americans (8.2%) report that they have engaged in same-sex sexual behavior and nearly 25.6 million Americans (11%) acknowledge at least some same-sex sexual attraction. ..."

    "Survey methods can affect the willingness of respondents to report stigmatizing identities and behaviors. Feelings of confidentiality and anonymity increase the likelihood that respondents will be more accurate in reporting sensitive information. Survey methods that include face-to-face interviews may underestimate the size of the LGBT community while those that include methods that allow respondents to complete questions on a computer or via the internet may increase the likelihood of LGBT respondents identifying themselves. Varied sample sizes of surveys can also increase variation."

Their estimate would mean that 1 out of about 333 adults is transgender. A city of one million adults could then be expected to have about 3,000 transgender adults.

Thus it is likely that survey data is probably going to underestimate the size of the LGBT community for many years into the future, until hatred and denigration of the LGBT community becomes rare and lesbians, gays, transgender persons and transsexuals become fully accepted. 6

  • 2016-JUN: Andrew R. Flores et al. at the Williams Institute wrote that since the Institute's previous report in 2011:

    "... more state-level data sources have emerged that allow us to utilize an estimation procedure that would not have been possible with the limited data available in 2011. ..."

    "We find that 0.6% of U.S. adults identify as transgender. ... [This] implies that an estimated 1.4 million adults in the U.S. identify as transgender. State-level estimates of adults who identifyas transgender range from 0.3% in North Dakota to 0.8% in Hawaii. ... The youngest age group, 18 to 24 year olds, is more likely than older age groups to identify as transgender."

    Their report includes a map of the percentage of transgender-identifying adults by state. They estimate that the "95% credible intervals are between:

    • 854,066 and 2,293,511 transgender adults living in the United States.

    • 0.36% and 0.95% of the total U.S. adult population are transgender.

    • There are up to 103,813 transgender adults in New York State, 163,960 in Florida, 212,200 in Texas and 378,513 in California. 7

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References used:

The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.

  1. "Transsexualism," Wikipedia, at:
  2. P. Wilson, et al., "The prevalence of gender dysphoria in Scotland: a primary care study," British Journal of General Practice, Vol. 49, #449, 1999-DEC, Pages 991-992, at:
  3. F. Olyslager & Lynn Conway, "On the calculation of the prevalence of transsexualism," at: This is a PowerPoint slide presentation.
  4. F. Olyslager & Lynn Conway, "On the calculation of the prevalence of transsexualism," at:
  5. J. Walinder, "Transsexualism: Definition, prevalence and sex distribution," Acta Psychiatrica Scandinavica, Vol. 203, Pages 255-257, 1968.
  6. Gary J. Gates, "How many people are lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender?," The Williams Institute, 2011-APR, at: This is a PDF file.
  7. Andrew R. Flores, et al., "How many adults identify as transgender in the United States?" The Williams Institute, 2016-JUN, at:

Copyright 2007 to 2016 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Original posting: 2007-JUN-08
Latest update: 2016-JUL-05
Author: B.A. Robinson

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