Where Have All The Transgender People Gone?

The announcement of open service for transgender troops happens to coincide with the release of new Williams Institute report showing that the number of adults identifying as transgender in the US has doubled in the last 5 years to 0.6%.

Flickr/creativecommons

Flickr/creativecommons

Since traveling the country over the last decade to interact and work with trans activists, I learned one important fact that indicates this new Williams Institute estimate is far, far too low. The transgender people that make themselves highly visible as a political act, in fact, represent a small handful.

Consider how many lesbian, gay, and bisexual people there are who just live quiet lives without any public life. Only a small percentage, perhaps less than 10 or 20 percent, ever get involved in equality rights activism.

Well, this is even more true for trans people because the majority of people transitioning to be men and women frequently stay very private, even moving someplace where no one knows them in their prior gender and previous life. They start living as a a woman or a man, nothing trans about it.

It has nothing to do with being devious or overly secretive. People just want to be safe, and have a right to be safe. They want to be comfortable as they are, who they are.

Many trans women and trans men acknowledge that the most likely place of scrutiny and questioning of their of their gender is just standing next to any other trans person. This very simple reality drives down the likelihood they will go public for activism.

These private trans people herald our better world where it just doesn’t make any difference. There are no labels, no questions, and no violence because of sexual orientation and gender identification. The divisive, near infinite alphabet imposed on our community by those who want to brand and label us will be in the dustbin of history where it surely belongs.

I reckon the number of trans people is huge, far greater than this recent doubling of the statistics to 0.6%. There are just legions of women and men, who may have called themselves trans at one point, who no longer feel the need to explain their gender journey. They just are. And we are a better world for it.

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Alison Gardner

Alison Gardner

Alison Gardner is co-founder of VenusPlusX, and writes frequently on global sexual freedom, American fundamentalists exporting hate and homophobia, and grassroots activism.
Alison Gardner