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

Working Paper Number CARRA-WP-2015-03
Benjamin Cerf Harris
Component ID: #ti1709511075

Abstract

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.

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