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Census 2021: 20,000 adults in B.C. identified as trans or non-binary

April 28, 2022

By Vancouver Sun |

B.C. has one of the highest proportions of people identifying as transgender or gender nonbinary in Canada, according to the 2021 Census — the first time such information has been collected in a national population survey.

Nearly 20,000 people aged 18 and older in B.C. identified as trans or nonbinary in the census — roughly 0.44 per cent of the population.

Experts said the number of transgender or nonbinary people in the country was “vastly under-reported” but welcomed the formal recognition that Statistics Canada’s work indicated.

“We have to recognize that while this is a step forward, there are many people who still do not trust systems enough to be able to share that type of data,” said Marni Parnas, a transgender woman and consultant focusing on diversity, inclusion and equity who has worked with corporations, community service organizations and governments of all levels.

“I think it’s really significant to have formal recognition that many of us don’t simplistically adhere to binary categories,” said Travers, a professor of sociology at SFU and author of the book The Trans Generation, who goes by one name. They also felt the census count was under-reported.

“This is just the tip of the iceberg,” Travers said, noting that a “majority of trans and nonbinary children and youth are invisible because it’s not safe for them to show themselves.”

“I think as time goes on, and as our younger people age, you’re going to also see those numbers increase,” Parnas said. “It’s not because there’s more trans people.”

Travers agreed, saying they recently met a retiree “who had just started her transition” at about 65 years old. “It’s easier now,” Travers said the retiree told them.

“There are not more trans and nonbinary people now than there were (in the past),” Travers said. “We’ve always been around.”

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