Jun 22, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Study: 1.2 million adults identify as non-binary in the U.S.

A pride flag waved in front of the U.S. Supreme Court

A pride flag waved in front of the U.S. Supreme Court. Photo: Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images

About 1.2 million adults in the U.S. identify as nonbinary, according to a new study published Tuesday by the UCLA's Williams Institute, a research center focused on sexual orientation and gender identity law.

Why it matters: The U.S. census does not ask about gender identity, making this study the first broad population estimate of its kind, according to the Washington Post.

The big picture: People who identify as nonbinary comprise about 11% of the total population of the LGBTQ adults aged 18 to 60 in the U.S.

  • 76% of nonbinary adults in the U.S. are between the ages of 18 to 29.
  • 89% live in urban areas.
  • "Respondents identified as White (58%) multiracial (16%), Latinx (15%), and Black (9%)," notes the study, adding that "American Indian/Native Alaskan and Asian/Pacific Islanders are under-represented in this report" due to one of the datasets used by the study.

About 55% of respondents said they had been physically attacked or sexually assaulted as adults.

  • "Nonbinary LGBTQ adults also experienced stress in childhood, including emotional (82%), physical (40%), and sexual (41%) abuse," per the study.
  • 51% had "symptoms consistent with serious mental illness," notes the study.

Researchers looked at findings from two prior surveys with data collected from 2016 to 2018. One survey was on trans adults and one was on lesbian, gay and bisexual adults who aren’t trans.

What they're saying: Joel Baum, senior director of professional development at the nonprofit Gender Spectrum, told the Washington Post the study was significant for increasing visibility of nonbinary people.

  • “It’s almost like a stake in the ground, right?” he said. “Saying, ‘Here we are.’”
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