Adults Who Identify as Transgender are More Racially and Ethnically Diverse than the U.S. General Population

For Immediate Release:
October 4, 2016

Media Contact:
Noel Alumit, alumit@law.ucla.edu
Office: 310-794-2332

Adults Who Identify as Transgender are More Racially and Ethnically Diverse than the U.S. General Population

New study finds that adults who identify as transgender are more likely than the U.S. population to identify as Latino or Hispanic and African-American or Black

(Los Angeles) – Adults who identify as transgender are more racially and ethnically diverse than the U.S. population overall, according to a new study released by The Williams Institute at the UCLA School of Law. This study is the first to provide estimates of the racial and ethnic make-up of adults who identify as transgender in each of the 50 states, plus the District of Columbia.

In Race and Ethnicity of Adults who Identify as Transgender in the United States, Williams Institute researchers Andrew R. Flores, Ph.D., Taylor N. T. Brown, MPP, and Jody L. Herman, Ph.D., estimate that adults who identify as transgender are less likely to be white and more likely to be racial and ethnic minorities when compared to the U.S. general population. Adults who identify as African-American or black, Latino or Hispanic, and adults of another race or ethnicity are more likely than white adults to identify as transgender.

“We have suspected from prior research with smaller representative samples that people who identify as transgender are more racially and ethnically diverse than the U.S. population,” Dr. Jody L. Herman said. “Data we now have from more state-level surveys are confirming that suspicion.”

Key findings from the report:

  • In the U.S. population, the study estimates that 0.5 percent of white adults, 0.8 percent of African-American or black adults, 0.8 percent of Latino or Hispanic adults, and 0.6 percent of adults of another race or ethnicity identify as transgender.
  • Among adults who identify as transgender, 55 percent identify as white, 16 percent identify as African-American or black, 21 percent identify as Latino or Hispanic, and 8 percent identify as another race or ethnicity.
  • Broader racial and ethnic demographic patterns of U.S. residents, such as a higher percentage of Latinos residing in the Southwest, are similar to the racial and ethnic demographic patterns of adults who identify as transgender in the U.S.

“While our study confirms that people who identify as transgender are racially and ethnically diverse, the question remains as to why transgender people are more diverse than others,” said Taylor N.T. Brown. “We need more research before we can answer that question.”

For Race and Ethnicity of Adults who Identify as Transgender in the United Statesthe authors utilized data from the CDC’s Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS), a national, state-administered survey, which collected data on transgender identity among adults in 19 states for the first time in 2014.

There is a lack of nationally-representative data sources that allow us to understand the size and demographics of the transgender population. Moving forward, nationally-representative surveys should include questions to identify transgender people, which would provide new opportunities to further our knowledge about the demographic composition of the transgender population.

Read the report.