More Americans Say They Know a Trans Person—and That Can Save Lives
From her Diane Sawyer interview to her Vanity Fair cover and educational docuseries, Caitlyn Jenner has become one of the most prominent celebrity faces of the transgender community. The cultural significance of her visibility in mainstream media has been largely underscored by one prominent statistic: About 8 percent of Americans say they personally know someone who is transgender, according to a 2008 GLAAD survey.
As it turns out, that number has doubled in the last seven years, according to a survey released by the organization on Thursday. Of the 2,000 adult participants, 16 percent now report personally knowing or working with someone who is transgender. LGBT advocates say that’s a good thing.
UCLA’s Williams Institute estimates that while gay and lesbian adults account for 1.7 percent of the U.S. population, transgender adults account for about 0.3 percent of the U.S. population. But many experts believe the number is much higher than statistics can account for. Part of the reason is that a majority of transgender people hide their gender identity or transition to avoid discrimination, according to a 2011 survey from the National Center for Transgender Equality.
When it comes to transgender visibility, geographic location matters too. People who live in the West were nearly twice as likely to know or work with someone who is transgender than people who live in the Northeast. Surprisingly, residents of the South and Midwest scored slightly higher than those who live in the Northeast when it comes to knowing a transgender person.
For that reason, GLAAD spokesperson Nick Adams says, “it’s crucial that the media increase and improve the coverage of transgender issues, and that transgender people have the opportunity to tell their own stories about our lives and the issues we face.”