The Williams Institute at UCLA School of Law has published another study about the transgender community. Race And Ethnicity Of Adults Who Identify As Transgender In The United States, prepared by Andrew R. Flores, Taylor N. Y. Brown, and Jody L. Herman was published in October.
The two major takeaways from he paper are that transgender adults are more racially and ethnically diverse in comparison to the general United States population and that transgender adults who identified with a certain race were significantly more likely to live in communities with a high proportion of individuals of the same race.
That this was the first study of its kind really speaks to how new this research is. This sets the baseline for future research.
Brown said previous studies used only limited samples to study racial diversity among transgender adults. The Williams Institute’s recent report used representative data from all 50 states and District of Columbia, which he said made it more likely to accurately describe trends in transgender diversity nationwide.
Brown said he and other researchers assessed trends by collecting data from the 2014 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, a nationwide telephone survey administered by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The survey gathers information about the transgender identity of respondents, among other health- and identity-related information.
He said he and his collaborators combined the results from the BRFSS and data from the U.S. Census to assess the race and ethnicity of transgender adults, as well as their location.
He added that the researchers do not know why transgender populations exhibit disproportionate racial and ethnic diversity.
In the general population, 66% of people identify as White/non-Hispanic, 12% as African American or Black/non-Hispanic, 15% as Hispanic or Latino, and 8% as other/non-Hispanic.
Transgender adults identify as 55% White/non-Hispanic, 16% as African American or Black/non-Hispanic, 21% as Hispanic or Latino, and 8% as other/non-Hispanic.
Considering the racial and ethnic composition of the transgender population in another way, we find that there are differences in the percentage of adults who identify as transgender depending on their race or ethnicity. We estimate that 0.5% of White adults identify as transgender, as do 0.8% of African-American or Black adults, 0.8% of Latino or Hispanic adults, and 0.6 % of adults of other races and ethnicities.
Estimates of the percentage of adults who identify as transgender by race vary among the states. The percentage of White adult residents who identify as transgender ranges from 0.3% in North Dakota to 0.6% in Georgia.
The percentage of African-American or Black adult residents who identify as transgender ranges from 0.4% in Montana and North Dakota to 0.9% in Georgia. The percentage of Latino or Hispanic adult residents who identify as transgender ranges from 0.4% in North Dakota to 1.0% in Georgia. The percentage of adult residents of other races or ethnicities who identify as transgender ranges from 0.4% in Iowa to 0.9% in New Mexico. The District of Columbia is notable for having the highest proportion of adult residents who identify as transgender among each racial and ethnic group represented in the report: White (1.6%), African-American or Black (3.7%), Latino or Hispanic (3.4%), and adults who identify as another race or ethnicity (2.5%).
Adriana Navarro Rodriguez, a third-year astrophysics student, said she finds the report’s findings surprising because she herself had not observed a similar trend.
I’ve never really had to think about (this trend) because it’s not something I’ve ever seen or noticed.
--Rodriguez, who has a transgender brother
Rodriguez thinks it’s counterintuitive that there are more minorities that identify as transgender because she believes conservative minority families may be less likely to accept their transgender family members.
People of color tend to know what it feels like to be marginalized, so they’re more accepting than other communities, even if it’s of a different kind of marginalization.
--Raja Bhattar, director of UCLA LGBT Resource Center
Bhattar added they think transgender adults tend to cluster in areas with a high proportion of people of their own race because they feel safer in communities they identify with.
It’s not a surprising finding. In my experience, transgender people feel deeper roots in communities they’ve grown up in.