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9 Million People in America Identify as LGBT Says New Report

9 Million People in America Identify as LGBT Says New Report

A Williams Institute report released in conjunction with the UCLA School of Law on Thursday points to 3.5 percent of American adults identifying as lesbian, gay or bisexual, while an estimated 0.3 percent would identify as transgender. The report estimates there are 9 million people who identify as LGBT in the United States. 

From the Williams Institute’s summary (emphasis added):

Drawing on information from four recent national and two state-level population-based surveys, the analyses suggest that there are more than 8 million adults in the US who are lesbian, gay, or bisexual, comprising 3.5% of the adult population. There are also nearly 700,000 transgender individuals in the US. In total, the study suggests that approximately 9 million Americans – roughly the population of New Jersey – identify as LGBT. Key findings from the study include among adults who identify as lesbian, gay, or bisexual, bisexuals comprise a slight majority (1.8% compared to 1.7% who identify as lesbian or gay); women are substantially more likely than men to identify as bisexual; estimates of those who report any lifetime same-sex sexual behavior and any same-sex sexual attraction are substantially higher than estimates of those who identify as lesbian, gay, or bisexual. An estimated 19 million Americans (8.2%) report that they have engaged in same-sex sexual behavior and nearly 25.6 million Americans (11%) acknowledge at least some same-sex sexual attraction.

As noted above, the demographer Gary Gates gathered estimates by averaging the results of surveys conducted in the United States between 2004 and 2009.

In a telephone interview with the Washington Post Gates said that concrete numbers are hard to come by, but emphasized that the numbers do matter because they begin to show us in more concrete terms a population that has so far remained largely invisible where national statistics are concerned.

The Post article demonstrates what Gates admits is a limitation of the report: that it relies on data where people have defined their own identity to pollsters. This is problematic given there is still a stigma attached to LGBT identity that may prevent respondents telling the truth:

In Maryland, the Gates numbers were seized upon by advocates and opponents of efforts to legalize same-sex marriage.

Del. Donald H. Dwyer Jr. (R-Anne Arundel) noted that the number was considerably smaller than estimates made by advocates of same-sex marriage.

“Delegates in Maryland heard from their constituents,” he said. “That’s why same-sex marriage failed this year. Until there’s a wide acceptance of it across the state of Maryland, I don’t think those bills are going to be successful.”

Officials with Equality Maryland, which has lobbied hard for same-sex marriage to be legalized in the state, cited previous studies estimating that Maryland’s gay community has 178,000 people, including 15,000 couples.

“Because folks are self-identified, the number is probably always a little lower than expected,” said Linsey Pecikonis, a spokeswoman for the group. “But I think having 9 million Americans be members of the LGBT community, that’s a fairly significant community.”

Gates argues that more national surveys should include questions on LGBT identity even on subjects that would seem largely unrelated. This is because, as Gates points out, there exists little national data on LGBTs due to institutionalized homophobia that has narrowly defined sexual orientation and gender identity as purely matters relating to health and sex. This means LGBTs remain a relatively unknown and underrepresented population in terms of family life, child-rearing and other habits.

The report also specifically notes a difficulty in assessing the transgender community in this regard, saying: “Definitions of who may be considered part of the transgender community include aspects of both gender identities and varying forms of gender expression or non-conformity. Similar to sexual orientation, one way to measure the transgender community is to simply consider self-identity. Measures of identity could include consideration of terms like transgender, queer, or genderqueer. The latter two identities are used by some to capture aspects of both sexual orientation and gender identity.”

This report notes that only with wider and far-reaching research can a more accurate picture be built.

You can read the full study at the Williams Institute website by clicking here.

Earlier this week saw the release of a groundbreaking study into LGBT-elder care and the problems and fears that LGBT older adults face when considering long term care.  For more information on this, click here.

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Image taken from the report under fair use terms, no infringement intended.

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42 comments

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6:00PM PDT on Jul 6, 2011

Byron M, "equivalency" arguments are the last resort of people who have no salient points to argue. Anyone who takes the time to write out a comment arguing a ridiculous non sequitur such as yours obviously has nothing of relevance to say either way, and, it simply reveals your bigotry and insecurities.

Randi F, a noble thought but we're dealing with reality here. People everywhere, throughout history have ALWAYS labeled and categorized EVERYONE. That's human nature. GLBTs are a category, group, whatever you want to call them (us) because we have been attacked in so many ways and for so long that we had to have these distinctive labels and categories out there in order to define and fight for our rights and protections. Regardless of how I feel about it, or you, our opponents will never "declassify" us and leave us alone, so, like I said, this is reality.

As for the numbers in this study, anyone with half a brain understands that these numbers are ridiculously low because of the closet and all those people who continue to make being open and proud so difficult for people in this culture. We're making strides, but if we didn't have studies and polls and have a "class identity" and organizations speaking out no one would listen to our plight.

2:31PM PDT on Apr 19, 2011

Demographics stats link for the United States:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Demographics_of_the_United_States#Marriage

Population of the USA - JULY 2009 -
TOTAL POPULATION-307, 006, 550. - 9 Million People in America Identify as LGBT Says New Report.
Stats link for USA population:
http://www.google.com/publicdata?ds=uspopulation&met=population&tdim=true&dl=en&hl=en&q=population+of+the+usa

That is roughly 2.94% of the population of the USA. To put this into perspective - 2% of the population is allergic to MSG food additive yet it is not taken off the market or out of the processed foods because 2% is considered to be such a low percent that it is not worth changing the process or removing it.
Yet 2.94% of the population who identify as LBGT are petitioning the courts and challenging the laws of the land and raising hell and havoc to have them changed. Yet the 2% of the population who are made sick or suffer with migraine headaches because of the MSG additive are considered negligible. Shouldn't the health of close to 9 million people who are made sick and suffer from MSG allergy be just as important or even more so? 2% is a very small portion of the total population and is considered insignificant.

9:11AM PDT on Apr 13, 2011

Tks.

8:13AM PDT on Apr 11, 2011

wow...thats alot. its totally fine by me i just never really met people open about it so this is a big number to me Just in america, thank you

4:56AM PDT on Apr 11, 2011

The opposition to rights & protections for LGBT persons in the 21st century can only be based on hard core bigotry of the lowest order. That it involves the country that has always been at the forefront of liberty & justice for all, the USA; is truly sad. So much of America's ideals have been undermined by the underside of religion. Same-sex marriage opponents are not really concerned with nuptials , but have an unseemly opposition to the very existence of homosexual persons. They have had no qualms about using lies, slander & defamation to achieve their agenda. These tactics will come back to haunt conservatives for generations to come.

3:31PM PDT on Apr 10, 2011

why must we put people in catagories? we are all people we all bleed the same and should love the same, lets quit letting them put us in boxes because i know personally i am worth more and i know all of you are as well

1:31PM PDT on Apr 10, 2011

I believe that these figures are low. It could either be a discrepancy in the survey or the fact that many GLBT are still discriminated against. It's sad that a society that perceives itself as enlightened and forward, is often just the opposite. Hopefully that will change soon so the American belief of "equal" rights, means equal rights for all, not just certain groups.

10:01AM PDT on Apr 10, 2011

Thanks

9:00AM PDT on Apr 10, 2011

Food for thought!!

6:28AM PDT on Apr 10, 2011

Pooch A. - I hope you mean "flashy", although I have seen "fleshy" as well. But the honest truth is that while there certainly are the more "flamboyant" types of gays out there, both men and women, they are the vocal and visible minority of gays and lesbians. Most of them dress in regular clothes and go about their business, just like straight people. You might see the occasional public display of affection - handholding or a brief kiss - but let's face it, you get that from straight people, too.

Yes, the GLBT people are proud to admit it. That's helping to counter centuries of hate and bigotry, and is no different than black pride or (and I admit it galls me to say this, but it *is* accurate) white pride. Everyone has their extremists.

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