Trans, non-binary people and the 2021 Census

The 2021 Census data is in, and it was no surprise that transgender and non-binary people attracted much of the media’s attention. True, most of the headlines were about an aging workforce and population, but once they got that out of the way, it was mostly about us. (By contrast, you had to look around the more sedate Statistics Canada site to find our numbers.)

If you missed it, these are the main stats: 0.33 % of the nearly 30.5 million Canadians aged 15 and older and living in a private household identified as trans or non-binary. That broke down to 59,460 transgender folks and 41,355 non-binary, or 100,815 in total.

It’s hard to call us a trend with those kinds of numbers, but there was one statistic – reported without comment – that could perhaps be used to suggest that. The proportion of trans and non-binary people among generation Z and millennials was three to seven times higher than for generation X, baby boomers and those older. There could be several reasons for that, the most obvious being that society is more accepting of gender non-conformity than it ever was and people are freer to self-define. Transphobic people think that greater freedom is the problem, of course, but it is in fact social evolution.

Speaking as a baby boomer who lived through transphobic times, my perception of many people my age is that if they didn’t transition, they eventually learned to accommodate themselves to the gender binary. People become more conservative as they get older. I may be wrong, but there are many trans folks I knew who disappeared into the ether. It’s probably no longer important for them to let Statistics Canada know who they are. They survived, and they’re all right, and that’s enough for them.

Here’s a fun table posted on the CBC site that lists many Canadian cities and the percentage of their population that is trans and non-binary. Scroll down the page and find your city. (Swipe sideways to access all 8 pages.) Not sure why Ottawa-Gatineau is listed twice. One is clearly for the entire Ottawa-Gatineau area, but if the other is for Ottawa only, why identify it as Ottawa-Gatineau?

Here’s my blog post on Census Day 2021.