The U.S. Census records one’s sex assigned at birth but does not track current gender identity, or whether one’s current sex differs from that given when they were born. That means the size of the transgender population in the U.S. is not officially known.
In 2017, however, the American Journal of Public Health published a study that aggregated data from national surveys to estimate the number of transgender people in the country. It found that transgender adults number 1 in 250, or almost 1 million Americans. The study noted that they are more likely to be younger adults. Additionally, a study that same year by the University of Minnesota found that about three percent of state high school students identify as transgender or gender nonconforming, a higher percentage than any previous study has found.
Despite these numbers, society in many ways is still struggling to be inclusive of this population. And transgender people continue to feel stigmatized.
Elgün can cite several examples of discrimination — and humiliation — he endured as a transgender person in high school, including one in which his gym teacher referred to him as “it” in class.
“But now, a lot has changed,” Elgün, 34, says of the progress in recent years. “My gym-class experience would be completely lawsuit-worthy, but at the time [such a lawsuit] just wasn’t a thing.”
Such discrimination results in high rates of anxiety and depression among this population. In fact, Dr. Sevlever says, according to a study from the Williams Institute at the UCLA School of Law, 40 percent will attempt suicide at some point in their lives.
“People, and this includes adolescents, who are transgender experience higher rates of bullying, higher rates of rejection, and higher rates of discrimination or harassment,” she says. “And with all of that we have higher rates of anxiety, depression, or suicidality.”