Fascinating report from GIRES (the Gender Identity Research and Education Society), “Gender Variance In The UK:Prevalence, Incidence, Growth And Geographic Distribution” (direct link to PDF here; there’s also a rather zippy Flash version here).
The report estimates that in the UK, as many as one person in 166 experiences some degree of gender variance, with so-called “male-to-female gender variance” perhaps accounting for up to 1% of the UK population.
There’s always been a problem in estimating the numbers of trans people, for a variety of reasons. Much depends on how you define terms like “gender variant”, “transitioning” and so on – surgery is often used as a benchmark, yet it’s also been suggested that only 10% of trans people actually transition through to that (I’ll add the link as soon as I remember where I saw it). Does the report include those of us who underwent our surgery outside the UK (and how would you know?). Plus, there are various other aspects involved in transitioning apart from medical (eg social and legal) – how are these quantified, and are they included? Also, how many trans people never actually come into contact with the medical system at all (for whatever reason) – and even if you could find out how many are in that group, would they be included?
Statistical best guesstimates tend to be just that – guesstimates – and are, in addition, likely to be coloured by the biases of the statisticians. Thus we have the NHS saying that “one in 4,000 people in the UK is receiving medical help for gender dysphoria” (link here), whilst calculations by Donna Patricia Kelly in 2001 suggested a minimum of one person in 1400 (link here); whereas the APA’s infamous DSM-IV puts the figure at “roughly 1 per 30,000 adult males“.
In the light of all these variables, it’s difficult to know if our numbers really are increasing, or whether it’s simply the case that recording methods are more inclined to pick us out these days.
So I have to say that as far as these kind of guessing games go, well, skeptical girl is skeptical.
(Curtsey to Andrea James for the heads up)