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Likely Transgender Individuals in U.S. Federal Administrative Records and the 2010 Census


  • Benjamin Cerf Harris


This paper utilizes changes to individuals’ first names and sex-coding in files from the Social Security Administration (SSA) to identify people likely to be transgender. I first document trends in these transgender-consistent changes and compare them to trends in other types of changes to personal information. I find that transgender-consistent changes are present as early as 1936 and have grown with non-transgender consistent changes. Of the likely transgender individuals alive during 2010, the majority change their names but not their sex-coding. Of those who changed both their names and their sex-coding, most change both pieces of information concurrently, although over a quarter change their name first and their sex-coding 5-6 years later. Linking individuals to their 2010 Census responses shows my approach identifies more transgender members of racial and ethnic minority groups than other studies using, for example, anonymous online surveys. Finally, states with the highest proportion of likely transgender residents have state-wide laws prohibiting discrimination on the basis of gender identity or expression. States with the lowest proportion do not.

Suggested Citation

  • Benjamin Cerf Harris, 2015. "Likely Transgender Individuals in U.S. Federal Administrative Records and the 2010 Census," CARRA Working Papers 2015-03, Center for Economic Studies, U.S. Census Bureau.
  • Handle: RePEc:cen:cpaper:2015-03

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Conron, K.J. & Scott, G. & Stowell, G.S. & Landers, S.J., 2012. "Transgender health in massachusetts: Results from a household probability sample of adults," American Journal of Public Health, American Public Health Association, vol. 102(1), pages 118-122.
    2. Schilt Kristen & Wiswall Matthew, 2008. "Before and After: Gender Transitions, Human Capital, and Workplace Experiences," The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy, De Gruyter, vol. 8(1), pages 1-28, September.
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    Cited by:

    1. Christopher S. Carpenter & Samuel T. Eppink & Gilbert Gonzales, 2020. "Transgender Status, Gender Identity, and Socioeconomic Outcomes in the United States," ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 73(3), pages 573-599, May.

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