Canada now has picture of trans and non-binary population, census data shows

Canada’s first inclusion of gender-identification questions on the census reveals 0.33 per cent of Canadians over the age of 15 are transgender or non-binary, according to a release of the data by Statistics Canada Wednesday.

The numbers, based on last year’s census, show self-reported transgender and non-binary people were three to seven times more common in Generation Z and millennials than for Generation X and baby boomers, the agency said.

“Gender diversity was highest among those aged 20 to 24, almost 1 in 100 (0.85 per cent) of whom were transgender or non-binary,” reads the release. “In comparison, 1 in 700 were transgender or non-binary among people aged 65 and older.”

The figures came as part of the latest batch of data released from the 2021 census.

Canada is the first country to include and publish the results of such questions about gender in its census. It’s also the first time the agency has highlighted the difference between “sex at birth” and “gender” in the census.

In 2021 the phrase “at birth” was added to the question about sex on the questionnaire, StatCan said. Under “gender,” those filling out the census were also given the option to write their own third option instead of male of female.

The agency said the question helped provide insight into an “important information gap” on gender diversity in the country.

Results showed that of the 30.5 million people in Canada over the age of 15, more than 59,000 people are transgender and more than 41,000 are non-binary.

The numbers varied across Canada, with Nova Scotia, Yukon and British Columbia having the highest proportions of people who are either transgender or non-binary — 0.48, 0.47 and 0.44 per cent respectively. Quebec had the smallest proportions of the two groups: 0.14 per cent transgender and 0.09 per cent non-binary.

Nova Scotia had the highest percentage of non-binary or transgender residents between ages 15 and 34 at 1.17 per cent, with British Columbia at 0.90 per cent. In raw numbers, Ontario is home to the most transgender and non-binary people in Canada: 39,450.

The census release said the “vast majority” of non-binary people live in cities. More than half of Canada’s non-binary people lived in Canada’s six largest cities, with 15.3 per cent of the population in Toronto alone.

Among cities, Victoria had the highest proportion of transgender or non-binary people, at 0.75 per cent, followed by Halifax at 0.66 per cent. Quebec again had the lowest numbers in urban centers in Canada: Drummondville and Saguenay both came in at 0.17 per cent.

StatCan and advocates say the numbers most likely underestimate the true size of the county’s trans and non-binary populations, as older people are less likely to feel comfortable disclosing their gender.

Fae Johnstone, a transgender advocate, said data capturing the lived experience of trans people has been limited and the new information is important.

“It says something when our government is recognizing the existence of trans folks who have historically been kept out of these conversations and uncounted,” Johnstone told The Canadian Press. “But it is also useful to us to better understand how we can focus interventions and address health inequities experienced by trans folks across this country.”

StatCan said those in the two categories have reported “poorer mental health outcomes,” according to information from health and social surveys that started asking the questions on sex at birth in 2018.

A survey in 2018 on safety in private and public spaces found transgender and non-binary people were far more likely to report having contemplate suicide in their lifetimes at 45 per cent, compared to 16 per cent for those not in the two groups. The survey said discrimination and victimization were among the contributors to the mental health outcomes.

With files from The Canadian Press


Conversations are opinions of our readers and are subject to the Code of Conduct. The Star does not endorse these opinions.

Leave a Comment