How many transgender and intersex people live in the United States? Anti-LGBTQ laws will impact millions

trans rights demo
Florida is among the GOP-led states passing laws banning gender-affirming care.

New laws targeting LGBTQ+ people are proliferating in GOP-led states, but often absent from policy decisions is a clear understanding of how many people will be directly affected.

There has been relatively scant data collected on the number of LGBTQ+ residents in the U.S., particularly intersex people — those born with physical traits that don’t fit typical definitions for male or female categories. That means lawmakers are often writing laws without the same kind of baseline information they might have for other demographic groups.

“We can’t study the impact without knowing the population,” said Christy Mallory, legal director of the Williams Institute at the UCLA School of Law. The Williams Institute is a think tank that researches sexual orientation and gender identity demographics to inform laws and public policy decisions.


Legislative decisions to ban transgender women and girls from playing school sports often fail to consider the impact on intersex students.

A new Kansas law defines a person’s sex as male or female, based on what it calls the “biological reproductive system” identified at birth, leaving no room for intersex people, and ignoring the existence of transgender and nonbinary Kansans.

Meanwhile, conversations about gender-affirming care bans were at times clouded by a discredited 2018 study that claimed kids might experience gender dysphoria because of peer influence. This led to erroneous suggestions that the number of trans people was inflated.

Arguments based on the discredited study helped gender-affirming care bans pass in Georgia, Idaho and elsewhere.

“Social media and social pressures that are put on our youth, and I do think that could play into this a little bit,” said Idaho Republican Sen. Doug Ricks during a statehouse debate earlier this year. “It’s difficult. And the conflicting testimony about the studies — there’s good arguments that validate those, and others that disvalidate that.”

While most states’ bans on gender-affirming care have attempted to carve out exceptions for people who are born intersex, they could still make it harder for intersex people to receive medical care, said Erika Lorshbough, executive director of InterACT, an advocacy group that works to advance the rights of children born with intersex traits. Physicians and other medical practitioners who treat intersex people might be confused by the laws or unsure about their potential liability, especially if an intersex patient also identifies as LGBTQ+, Lorshbough said.


Most advocacy groups estimate that 1.7% percent of people are born intersex — the equivalent of about 5.6 million U.S. residents. That estimate is based on a review published in the American Journal of Human Biology that looked at four decades of medical literature from 1955 to 1998. The estimate includes people with extra or missing sex-linked chromosomes, and those born with other physical variations that don’t fit into categories of “male” or “female.”

Intersex people are born with at least one of about 40 naturally occurring variations relating to their genitalia, internal reproductive organs, chromosome patterns or hormones.

Not all intersex people are identified as such at birth, and those who are may still be listed as either “male” or “female” on their birth certificate. That’s because only about 16 states currently allow a gender marker designation other than “male” or “female” on birth certificates, and not all hospitals have intersex-affirming policies.

Some intersex characteristics might not be evident until puberty or later — in fact, sometimes people don’t know they are intersex until they seek treatment for infertility or undergo other unrelated medical procedures. Others might only find out if they run across medical records from their childhood, because many intersex infants and children are subjected to surgeries and treatments without their consent to make their bodies conform to categories of male or female, according to the American Academy of Family Physicians. Since 2018, the AAFP has opposed medically unnecessary genital surgeries performed on intersex children.

“Some people never know they’re intersex if they have what we think of as a milder variation,” said Lorshbough. “And there are plenty of folks with variations in sex characteristics who don’t identify as intersex, and these issues impact them equally. It’s all about consent and autonomy.”

Hospitals aren’t required to track information about how many babies are born with intersex characteristics, and there has never been a nationwide survey on intersex status done by the U.S. Census Bureau, the National Institutes of Health or another government agency that normally collect demographic data, said Lorshbough.

That means there isn’t enough data to calculate a definitive population number.


Republished with permission from The Associated Press.

Associated Press


  • Eduardo Slaveen Salahuddin 👍

    July 27, 2023 at 4:55 pm

    Just stupid manufactured issues to cover up the real issues.. continuing high prices IN FLORIDA, lack of affordable healthcare IN FLORIDA, not to mention right wing police state IN FLORIDA. Economic mobility falling IN FLORIDA for those who don’t already have money due to PISS POOR WAGES IN FLORIDA.

  • SGT

    July 27, 2023 at 5:16 pm


  • Dont Say FLA

    July 27, 2023 at 8:57 pm

    There’s more laws about trans athletes than there are trans athletes. Y’all Rhonda fans been had. Again. Just like Trump had you and still has most of you.

    • Alyssa

      July 28, 2023 at 5:01 am

      yeah there are maybe a couple hundred transgender athletes in a country of 366 state..Ohio had ONE..yet our tax dollars are used to write hundreds of laws about them..unreal

  • Affirmative Sports Action

    July 28, 2023 at 7:53 am

    Why does the GOP want to keep girls isolated in their own sports lane just so they can get podium positions they cannot otherwise obtain in a fair sports contest? Wouldn’t it be better for girls to know the place the GOP has for them? That place is below boys while growing up, and then as an adult, in the kitchen. Note how Ron does not mention either of his daughters or even Jill got bored at the football game when they left at halftime. That is because the women were at home in the kitchen making a pie like they should be. So why inflate their sports rankings by artificially limiting the competition? That is SO UNFAIR to girls who should learn their place according to the GOP is in the kitchen.

Comments are closed.


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