International Handbook on the Demography of Sexuality

Volume 5 of the series International Handbooks of Population pp 289-327


The Demographics of the Transgender Population

  • Stacey Colton MeierAffiliated withDepartment of Psychology, University of Houston Email author 
  • , Christine M. LabuskiAffiliated withSociology Department, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University

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We want to stress at the outset of this chapter that the task of representing the transsexual and transgender population is nothing if not daunting. The difficulties, as we see them, stem from two main sources: (1) though a general “trans” sensibility exists in both the United States and worldwide, there are currently few measurable and/or standardized criteria (e.g. physical, social, political, etc.) regarding what might or should constitute a transgender person; and (2) problems with locating and accounting for this population are compounded by the relative invisibility through which many transgender individuals exist in their daily lives. Marginalized by political, religious, legal, medical, and other cultural institutions, transgender persons encounter levels of discrimination that range from simple misapprehension and/or exclusion by an uneducated public, to explicit acts of sexual and physical violence. Indeed, many in what is often referred to as the mainstream, including transgender individuals, are first exposed to the idea of “transgender” through media that often sensationalize and misrepresent the issues most salient for this population.