For much of its history, the transgender community has been forced underground, making the effort of gathering data a hard one. Now, a new study out of the University of California, Los Angeles advances that endeavor, finding that almost three percent of District denizens ages 18 and up identify as trans or gender non-conforming.
The study, which was picked up by NPR and conducted by UCLA’s Williams Institute, found that 1.4 million adults in the U.S.—or roughly 0.6 percent of total population—identify as transgender or gender non-conforming. The authors note that D.C.’s share was significantly higher than other jurisdictions’ (New York and California were 0.51 and 0.76 percent, respectively, for example) because it’s a city, rather than a state.
The study used data from a Centers for Disease Control survey called the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, which is administered via phone by states and the District. Only 19 states, however, include an optional module on the BRFSS that asks about sexual orientation and gender identity. The researchers extrapolated the results gathered from those states by factoring in state characteristics like racial composition, median income, and same-sex couple shares.
“While the estimation approach is not without its criticisms, the method remains the best available approach to perform this estimation procedure,” the authors acknowledge. The study also found that younger adults (defined as being 18 to 24 years old) are more likely than their older peers to identify as transgender—with 0.7 percent in that range doing so.
The District is helping to lead the charge in tracking outcomes for transgender individuals. Last year, the D.C. Office of Human Rights found that 48 percent of employers tested appeared to give preference to cisgender job applicants who were less qualified than transgender ones in a November report. In addition, a survey released that same month by the D.C. Trans Coalition determined that 42 percent of trans residents had experienced workplace harassment. And earlier this week, At-Large D.C. Councilmember David Grosso proposed a bill to get more data on D.C.’s LGBTQ population.
You can read the Williams Institute study here.