DeKalb, IL — A new study on gender-diverse high schoolers shows that the number of teens who identify outside of a strict male or female binary may be more than five times higher than popular estimates.
The study, published in the May 2021 issue of Pediatrics, researchers asked 3,168 students from 13 different Pittsburgh public high schools a more nuanced, two-part question about gender.
The first question asked for the sex the students were assigned at birth, or the sex on their birth certificate, giving the binary options “male” or “female.” But the second question asked them to self-select which word or words best described them, offering a wide array of options: “girl,” “boy,” “trans girl,” “trans boy,” “genderqueer,” “nonbinary,” and “another identity.”
About 9.2% of high school students in the study claimed gender diversity when asked to select from the broader range of choices.
A 2017 study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that 1.8% of high school students identify themselves as transgender. That survey asked students, simply, “Are you transgender?”
Dr. Kacie Kidd, an adolescent medicine fellow at the University of Pittsburgh and lead author of the 2021 study, said researchers believed that this two-step gender identity question would demonstrate a higher prevalence of gender diversity than in prior studies.
"Our goal was to understand the prevalence of gender-diverse identities among high school students in our Pittsburgh school district by asking what we considered to be, and what many scholars consider to be, a more inclusive question about gender identity," Kidd said, according to KCTV.