Data Collection

Canada census reveals how many people are trans

If clinicians were not cautious before, they should be now

Generational differences skew this unique data

One in three hundred Canadians identify as transgender or non-binary. Or to be precise, of the nearly 30.5 million people in Canada aged 15 and over living in a private household, 59,460 were transgender and another 41,335 were non-binary. The data comes from a new census which Statistics Canada claims to be a world first to report on transgender and non-binary people.

What’s more interesting, though, is the breakdown by age and sex. Young people are much more likely to be transgender. I think we could have guessed that, but now we have the numbers to prove it. Statistics Canada labels it a “generation gap”.

Digging into this breakdown, it is fascinating to see the two sexes follow quite different patterns. While the proportion of transgender women — i.e., biological males — fell from 0.18% (aged 20 to 24) to 0.08% (aged 65+), transgender men were far more heavily skewed to the younger age groups. Among biological females, those aged 15 to 24 were over five times more likely to identify as transgender than those over 40.

One argument for this discrepancy would doubtless be that members of the youngest generation are more comfortable ‘coming out’. But the gender skew seems more dramatic than would be explained by that effect, and implies that many teenage girls struggling with gender dysphoria will grow out of it as they move into adulthood. Many suspected that to be the case; now they have the data to justify it.

The breakdown by sex should be reliable because Statistics Canada had the foresight to ask for “sex at birth”. Other censuses have lacked that precision. In England and Wales, last year, the High Court ruled that transgender people should indicate the sex recorded on their birth certificate or gender recognition certificate. That drew an unhelpful line between trans people with legal gender recognition and those without. Though even that was better than the recent Scottish census where transgender people could effectively self-identify their sex, rendering the aggregated data unreliable or even useless.

Back across the Atlantic, Statistics Canada listed non-binary people separately from transgender people. The data indicated few surprises — this was a phenomenon among mainly young people. As we may have guessed, numbers dropped significantly by the time people hit their mid-30s. It was just a pity that the non-binary contingent was not broken down by sex. Although non-binary people may wish to identify out of their sex, they still have a sex and — like every other human being — they cannot escape their bodies. Non-binary males and non-binary females may have been aggregated, but they remain separate demographics.

No census can explain the transgender phenomenon, but Canada has given us an insight into its extent while giving credence to the idea that many youngsters will grow out of it. If clinicians were not cautious before, they should be now.

Debbie Hayton

* This article was first published by Unherd on 3 May 2022: Canada census reveals how many people are trans.

By Debbie Hayton

Physics teacher and trade unionist.

One reply on “Canada census reveals how many people are trans”

Very interesting. It is remarkable the 750% increase in trans men (proportionally), 0.04% to 0.30%, while there was only about 175% increase in m-f trans (0.08% to 0.14%).

Those trans directions have also switched, from about twice as many biological males identifying as trans to now twice as many females. I’m not sure what to put that down to. It might intersect with cultural views changing of being “tomboyish” or “effeminate”, and perhaps with what must be an alternative to transitioning for some, coming out as gay.

I accept your analysis – “that many teenage girls struggling with gender dysphoria will grow out of it as they move into adulthood” – as part of the explanation for the changing statistics, but there will be another effect. As well as being less or more experienced in terms of that struggle, gender identity would presumably be a concern mostly for young people, and the jump in the figures will reflect the increase in cultural acceptance, interest (or “obsession”) in recent years. The first explanation on its own suggests that roughly the same number felt inclined to transition, but grew out of it. I strongly suspect more and more are turning to the question of their gender identity as an explanation for their normal growing pangs and social ills, because it’s in our popular culture, almost trendy, and a great way for a struggling teenager to suddenly get attention and instigate great concern.

The “non-binary” epithet probably clarifies the extent to which all this “gender nonsense” is due to fashion, rocketing from 0.01% to 0.29%, which is a 2,900% increase. For some youngsters answering today, I imagine it means little more than, “I’m not like a cave-man; I’m a new man, in touch with my feminine side,” or, “I’m a girl, but not a girly-girl,” or, “I’m not sure yet, and I’m a bit bi-curious.” I mean, if gender is different from sex, I’m non-binary myself. We all are. Because if it is different, there’s nothing for “gender” to mean other than its relation to a bunch of stereotypes, and who wants to be a stereotype? Being non-binary is just like being woke. The opposite is Gilead.

Sorry to blather on at such length, and I should really read the damn report now!

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