Number of transgender people in the UK

There is a lot of discussion around trans issues but credible figures are hard to come by. There are no high quality figures available, but the best source is probably the Office of National Statistics. I raided two of their more recent publications and cross referenced a bit to derive some probably credible figures. In short, doing the arithmetic, we can deduce that there are 58,000 transwomen, 48,000 transmen and 114,000 non-binary people in the UK.

The first of their documents is:

“An estimated 1.4 million people aged 16 years and over (2.7% of the UK population) identified as lesbian, gay or bisexual (LGB) in 2019, an increase from 1.2 million (2.2%) in 2018. The LGB population comprised 1.6% identifying as gay or lesbian and 1.1% as bisexual.”

“In 2019, the proportion of men identifying as lesbian, gay or bisexual (LGB) increased from 2.5% to 2.9% (754,000) and women identifying as LGB rose from 2.0% to 2.5% (677,000) (see Figure 2). Men (2.1%) were almost twice as likely than women (1.1%) to identify as gay or lesbian. Conversely, women (1.4%) were more likely than men (0.8%) to identify as bisexual. This represents a continuation of trends observed since 2014.”

Regionally, ranges from 2.1% in the East to 3.8% in London.

The second reasonably credible source is:

This was a large survey using self-selecting respondents. Self selection obviously introduces potential biases from political or activism based responses and LGBT is notably an area that suffers greatly in this regard, especially currently in Trans issues. Generally, where a figure is provided it should be interpreted as the number who made that claim rather than simply taken at face value. It is also possible some respondents made multiple submissions.

“Sixty one percent of respondents identified as gay or lesbian and a quarter (26%) identified as bisexual. A small number identified as pansexual (4%), asexual (2%) and queer (1%).”

“Thirteen percent of the respondents were transgender (or trans). Of the total sample, 6.9% of respondents were non-binary (i.e. they identified as having a gender that was neither exclusively that of a man nor a woman), 3.5% were trans women (i.e. they had transitioned from man to woman at some point in their life) and 2.9% were trans men (i.e. they had transitioned from woman to man).”

From the 2019 sexual orientation survey, we know how many are LGB, so if 13% of LGBT are T, then that indicates around 220,000 trans people. (That compares to Stonewall’s activist figure of 600,000 which must be assumed to be a self-serving exaggeration with very low credibility and can therefore be disregarded.) In the next few months, the early results of the 2021 UK Census will be published and that will include numbers of people in the various LGBT groups. Sadly, even before they are published, we know we must distrust their accuracy since given the socio-political and social media environment at the time, some people may have given inaccurate answers for political, ideological or social reasons. Until then, 220,000 is the most credible figure we’re likely to get. We then get some stats in the LGBT Survey on the breakdown of that 220,000 trans people.

“Younger trans respondents were more likely than older respondents to identify as non-binary. For example, 57% of trans respondents under 35 were non-binary compared with 36% of those aged 35 or over. Younger respondents were also more likely to be trans men (26% of trans respondents under 35 were trans men compared with 10% aged 35 or over) and less likely to be trans women (17% of trans respondents under 35 were trans women compared with 54% aged 35 or over). This age profile partly accords with the referral figures to the children and adolescent gender identity services where the majority of referrals in 2016-17 were for people assigned female at birth (1,400 of the 2,016 referrals – 69%).”

There is therefore a huge increase in the number of young trans people (under 35) who are transmen, 26% compared to just 10% of those over 35, while only 17% of young trans people were transwomen compared to 54% of the older group. Far more young women and far fewer young men are becoming transgender, as opposed to non-binary. Doing the arithmetic, we can deduce that there are 58,000 transwomen, 48,000 transmen and 114,000 non-binary people in the UK. These figures are unlikely to be accurate, but are still probably the most credible estimate until we have the 2021 Census results.


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