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.
- Gary Gates, How many people are lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender?, the Williams Institute (at the UCLA School of Law), April 2011

Jan Hoffman reports that a 2015 survey of 18,494 Wisconsin high school students found that 1.5 percent identified themselves as transgender, and a 2006 survey of 1,032 Boston high school students found 1.6 percent identified as transgender. She notes that survey data of Massachusetts and California adults found only 0.3 percent considered themselves transgender.

"Why," she asks, "are the numbers larger for adolescents than adults?" Possible answers she considers include the survey situation, the way the question is worded, and "adolescents who don’t read the question carefully." Somehow they fail to include the obvious answer that the rate of transgenderism is increasing. Perhaps that is because it is too awkward to acknowledge such a growth of a literally abnormal sexual and gender variety. Similarly, although gay men and women are much more in evidence than formerly, the question of whether the rate of homosexuality is increasing receives almost no attention, perhaps because raising it would be politically incorrect.

- Jan Hoffman, As Attention Grows, Transgender Children’s Numbers Are Elusive, NYT, May 17, 2016

Our current best estimate of the percentage of adults who identify as transgender in the United States is double that of the estimate produced by Gary J. Gates in 2011. Several reasons may account for the difference. A perceived increase in visibility and social acceptance of transgender people may increase the number of individuals willing to identify as transgender on a government-administered survey. The Gates estimate was based on data from only two states with very small samples. The current study analyzes population-based data from 19 states that identify transgender individuals. This provides larger samples and a wealth of information about transgender-identified adults not previously available. As a result, more sophisticated estimation procedures are now possible that produce more detailed and robust estimates than were possible in 2011.
- Flores et al., How Many Adults Identify as Transgender in the United States?, the Williams Institute, June 2016, p. 6

About 1.4 million adults in the United States identify as transgender, double a widely used previous estimate, according to an analysis based on new federal and state data.

As the national debate escalates over accommodations for transgender people, the new figure, though still just 0.6 percent of the adult population, is likely to raise questions about the sufficiency of services to support a population that may be larger than many policy makers assumed. ...

The Williams Institute is the research group that produced a widely accepted estimate five years ago. Its new number was drawn from a much larger federal database than it used to reach the earlier projection of 0.3 percent, or 700,000 people.

Noting that younger adults ages 18 to 24 were more likely than older ones to say they were transgender, researchers said that the new estimates reflected in part a growing awareness of transgender identity.
- JAN HOFFMAN, Estimate of U.S. Transgender Population Doubles to 1.4 Million Adults, NYT, JUNE 30, 2016

After winning Spain’s national beauty contest last month, Ms. Ponce will become the first transgender woman to compete in the Miss Universe pageant. ...
When she was about 16, Ms. Ponce decided to undergo hormonal treatment and eventually vaginal plastic surgery, “to remove what for me was a burden and a trauma.” But she said that her message to the teenagers whom she now meets is always that vaginal surgery is a personal choice, and that it is not essential to being a woman.

“There are women with a penis and men with a vagina, because the only key part of being a woman is to be and feel like a woman,” she said.
- Raphael Minder, Aiming for Miss Universe — and Universal Transgender Rights, NYT, July 13, 2018

“If not for tumblr i probably wouldnt have realized or even accepted the possibility of me being gay/trans,” said one trans Tumblr user (who goes by the Twitter handle of @nonsensecodons).
- Jessica Powell, The Problem With Banning Pornography on Tumblr, NYT, Dec. 6, 2018

Our sexual lives and identities are determined not by our genes but by our cultures.
- Roy Richard Grinker, Being Trans Is Not a Mental Disorder, NYT, Dec. 6, 2018

Our meta-regression of US population-based surveys indicated a substantial annual increase in the number of transgender adults in the United States. As a consequence, meta-analyses that pool data across several years, including our own, will likely underestimate their numbers. A conservative estimate extrapolating our meta-regression results, while excluding the latest NCHA wave of data as a potential outlier, suggests that the proportion of transgender adults in the United States is 0.39%, or 390 per 100 000, and almost 1 million adults nationally. It should be noted that this estimate may be more indicative for younger adults and that national surveys in the near future may observe higher numbers of transgender people. We speculate that the observed annual increase is not an increase of the true population size, but the result of people feeling freer to report that they are or identify as transgender. ...
Our estimate of 0.39% is not quite as high as the 1% that was posited on the basis of a qualitative review of international studies. However, this high number was supported by new data from a Dutch population sample aged 15 to 70 years, which found that 1.1% of men and 0.8% of women experienced a gender identity incongruent with their sex assigned at birth. Our estimate is also lower than the 0.6% reported by Flores et al., who applied a rigorous statistical technique to extrapolate data from a single survey administered in 19 states to a national level. ...
The available evidence suggests that the size of the gender-nonconforming or gender-variant population may be twice as large as our best estimate for the transgender population size. ...
Lastly, our analysis indicated significant amounts of residual heterogeneity, which can potentially be explained by differences in respondent characteristics (e.g., general population, students, inmates) and the types of questions used to assess transgender identity.59 For example, the 2015 wave of the NCHA asked about respondents’ gender with 0.45% endorsing transgender, whereas respondents in the 2016 wave were asked whether they identified as transgender (1.8% responded yes).
- Esther L. Meerwijk and Jae M. Sevelius, Transgender Population Size in the United States: a Meta-Regression of Population-Based Probability Samples, Am J Public Health. 2017 February; 107(2): e1–e8. Published online 2017 February. doi: 10.2105/AJPH.2016.303578

A 2017 analysis in the American Journal of Public Health estimated that there are close to one million transgender individuals nationwide. The analysis suggested what many of us in the transgender community already know: that as young people become more comfortable with trusting their own self-expression and bodies rather than a socially constructed and enforced idea of a strict binary, the number of transgender people in society will grow.
- Alex Marzano-Lesnevich, Flying While Trans, NYT, April 17, 2019 ["Mx. Marzano-Lesnevich is a professor at Bowdoin College."]

For anyone interested in nonbinary demographics, the surveys had another shortcoming. They excluded anyone under age 18, and according to clinicians who specialize in gender, it’s among the young that nonbinary identity is taking hold most rapidly. “It’s growing exponentially,” Linda Hawkins, co-director of the Gender and Sexuality Development Clinic at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, told me about the number of kids and youth in her practice — from ages 6 to 21 — who identify as nonbinary. ...
Jacobs is 49 and nonbinary (they prefer “genderqueer”), but Jacobs is a rarity; the identity, they said, is the province mainly of people under 30. Its underground beginnings, they explained, can be traced well back in time, but one iteration emerged in the 1990s, with theorists like Judith Butler, who wrote about gender as a culturally scripted performance, based in social norms rather than biology, imposed much more than innate....
- Daniel Bergner, The Struggles of Rejecting the Gender Binary, NYT, June 4, 2019

The idea that the perceived boom in the trans population is due to peer pressure or social contagion can be uncomfortable for trans people and their supporters; it's also a theory frequently pushed by the right. In reality, no one knows exactly why so many people seem to have recently come out as trans or some other form of genderqueer. The writer and trans woman Julia Serano argues in an essay on Medium that this is due to the shift from the old gatekeeper system of trans health care to the newer model that "takes trans people's experiences and concerns seriously."

Increased visibility and societal acceptance are also logical explanations for the perceived growth in the trans population: More people are aware it's an option now. But, as a study published this year in the Journal of Adolescent Health notes, parents have begun reporting "a rapid onset of gender dysphoria" in adolescents and teens who are "part of a peer group where one, multiple, or even all friends have developed gender dysphoria and come out as transgender during the same time frame." Jesse, a 16-year-old in Portland who prefers the pronoun "they," told me that five kids in their eighth-grade class came out as trans that year.

"The question of peer pressure comes up a lot," said Lara Hayden of Seattle Children's Hospital, "but always by parents." One of only five such clinics serving trans youth in the nation, Seattle Children's Gender Clinic offers mental-health care as well as hormone blockers (to delay the onset of puberty) and cross-sex hormones like testosterone and estrogen for those who choose medical intervention (and not all trans people do).

Protocol is very different for youth and adult patients at Seattle Children's: For patients older than 18 (the Gender Clinic serves populations up to 21), the decision is ultimately up to the individual. But for kids, it's an ongoing process involving patients, health-care providers, insurance companies, and parents, some of whom worry that their kids are just going through a phase. As the parent of one formerly trans-identified teen told me, "We call it 'trendsgender.'"

To some trans activists, the social-contagion theory is just an excuse to question the authenticity of trans people and deny them access to health care and other rights. "There have always been transgender people. We're just more visible now," Tannehill told me. "There are a lot more out gay people now, too. Does that mean there's also some kind of social contagion of gayness?"
- Katie Herzog, The Detransitioners: They Were Transgender, Until They Weren't, The Stranger, JUN 28, 2017

While the explosion in referrals of children to gender identity clinics could be explained by greater societal and parental awareness and children feeling more comfortable in coming out, what is more difficult to explain is the drastic sex ratio reversal of females presenting with gender dysphoria. Not all of them will necessarily medically transition, but more and more females are distressed enough about their gender to seek mental health and medical advice. It is important to understand what is driving this trend.

It is relevant to note that while more people may be coming out the current observed ratio of females to males with gender dysphoria in youth clinics does not match the numbers of transitioners in the adult population in the most recent past. Most of the earliest gender transitions were MtF with the ratio balancing out recently with still more MtFs in most countries. ...
In Britain, enough individuals are concerned as to warrant a government inquiry into the increasing numbers of trans identified females. The sections below cover some material as to why this inquiry is a good idea.

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