Understanding the Challenges Faced by Genderqueer Individuals in the US

Adults are transgender or non-binary, meaning their gender is different from the sex assigned to them at birth. This includes people who describe themselves as male, female, or non-binary people, or who use terms such as fluid gender or gender to describe their gender. More recently, singer and actress Janelle Monáe declared herself non-binary, while the United States State Department and Social Security Administration announced that Americans will be able to select “X” instead of “male” or “female” as a sex marker in their passport and Social Security applications. At the same time, several states have enacted or are considering laws that would limit the rights of transgender and non-binary people.

These include bills that require people to use public restrooms that match the sex they were assigned at birth, that prohibit trans athletes from competing on teams that match their gender identity, and that restrict the availability of health care to trans youth seeking to make the medical transition. A new Pew Research Center survey reveals that 1.6% of the United States adults are transgender or non-binary, meaning their gender is different from the sex assigned to them at birth. Adults are transgender, and more and more people say they know someone who is (44% today compared to one in five say they know someone who doesn't identify as male or female). To better understand the experiences of transgender and non-binary adults at a time when gender identity is at the center of many national debates, the Pew Research Center organized a series of focus groups with men, trans women and non-binary adults on issues ranging from their gender trajectory to how they approach gender issues in their daily lives and what they consider to be the most pressing political issues faced by trans or non-binary people.

This is part of a larger study that includes a survey among the general public on their attitudes to gender identity and issues related to transgender or non-binary people. The terms transgender and trans are used interchangeably throughout this essay to refer to people whose gender is different from the sex assigned to them at birth. This includes, but is not limited to, transgender men (that is, men who were assigned a woman at birth) and transgender women (who were assigned a man at birth). Non-binary adults are defined here as those who are neither male nor female or who are not strictly one or the other.

While some participants from non-binary focus groups sometimes use different terms to describe themselves, such as “queer gender”, “gender fluid” or “genderless”, all said that the term “non-binary” describes their gender in the selection questionnaire. Some, but not all, non-binary participants are also considered transgender. References to women indicate a feminine gender expression. This is often contrasted with “masc”, which means male gender expression.

The term cisgender is used to describe people whose gender matches the sex assigned to them at birth and who do not identify as transgender or non-binary. Gender misinterpretation is defined as referring to or addressing a person in ways that don't align with their gender identity, such as the use of incorrect pronouns, titles (such as “sir” or “lady”) and other terms (such as “son” or “daughter”) that don't match their gender. References to dysphoria can include feelings of distress due to the mismatch between gender and the sex assigned at birth, as well as a diagnosis of gender dysphoria, which is sometimes a prerequisite for access to health care and medical transitions. The acronym LGBTQ+ refers to lesbians, gays, bisexuals, transgenders, queer (or, in some cases, questioning) and other sexual orientations or gender identities that are not heterosexual or cisgender, such as intersex, asexual or pansexual.

The Pew Research Center conducted this research to better understand the experiences and viewpoints of transgender and non-binary people in the United States. Because transgender and non-binary people represent only about 1.6% of American adults,. Population: This is a difficult population to reach with a nationally representative, probability-based survey. Alternatively, we held a series of focus groups with trans and non-binary adults that covered a variety of topics related to the trans and non-binary experience.

This allows us to go deeper into some of these topics than a survey would normally allow and to share these experiences in the respondents' own words. The findings are not statistically representative and cannot be extrapolated to larger populations. Most focus group participants said that they knew from an early age - many of them in preschool or elementary school age - that there was something different about them, even if they didn't have the words to describe it. Some described feeling that they didn't fit in with other children of their gender but didn't know exactly why; others said they felt like they were in the wrong body.

Many participants had already reached adulthood before finding words to describe their gender. For focus group participants, the path to self-discovery varied; some described having met someone who was transgender and referred to their experience; others described learning about trans or non-binary people in college classes or by doing their own research. Focus group participants used a wide variety of words to describe how they view their gender; for many non-binary participants, the term “non-binary” is more of a general term but when it comes to how they describe themselves they tend to use words like “queer gender” or “gender fluid”. The word “queer” appeared many times in different groups often to describe anyone who isn't straight or cisgender; some trans men and women preferred only terms like “man” or “woman” while some identified strongly with term “transgender”.

The graphic below shows just some of words that participants used describe their gender; how non-binary people conceptualize their gender varies; some said they feel they are both man woman how much feel one other... varies person person.