Transgenderism on the Rise in America: What’s a Catholic to Do?

According to the Centers for Disease Control, about one million people in the U.S. identify as transgender. That’s about 0.6% of the adult population.

image showing the percentage of transgender people in the united states


U.S. Census data does not ask whether a person identifies as transgender. However, according to the World Population Review, each of the 50 states has acquired data on its transgender population. Washington, D.C., has the highest percentage at 2.77. North Dakota has the lowest.

Outside of the U.S., researchers have found it much more difficult to determine the number of transgender people. Lack of clear data, the way statistics are kept, and the vague wording of surveys all prevent an accurate count.

According to the World Population Review: “There is very little data as to how many transgender people there are in [nations that recognize transgenderism]. Some nations, such as India, recognize transgender as a third gender. However, there are other nations that are not so open to this idea.”

Researchers believe there may be about 30,000 transgender people in the European Union. However, they based these estimates on numbers taken from health professionals. These numbers only included people who either had sex reassignment surgeries or who were undergoing hormone treatment. The number goes up if researchers broaden the definition. If they take into account people who simply identify as the opposite sex and who do not undergo any kind of hormone therapy or surgery, researchers say there could be as many as 1.5 million transgender people in the EU.

What Does “Transgender” Mean?

Transgender is an umbrella term. It encompasses anyone who identifies as a gender differing from their biological sex or as no gender at all, or anyone who has had a sex-change operation. A person who is transgender might be a male who identifies as female. She might be a female who identifies as male. A transgender person can identify as neither male nor female. Or he/she could be a person who identifies as a mix of both.

A transgender male is a person who was born female and who now lives as a male. A transgender female is a person who was born male and who now lives as a female.

Simply put, individuals who are transgender have a gender identity—an “internal, deeply held sense of their gender”—that differs from their sex at birth.

In other words, a person’s gender identity is the way he feels about what sex he is.

These feelings sometimes lead to emotional distress. When they do, it is termed gender dysphoria.

What Is Gender Dysphoria?

According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th edition, gender dysphoria is a “condition in which a person has marked incongruence between the expressed or experienced gender and the biological sex at birth.” These feelings can lead to distress and an inability to function, either socially or emotionally.

The APA identifies many possible stressors and obstacles. These include rejection at work or within their family, discrimination in housing, or fear of discussing health issues with a doctor. Any of these can lead to anxiety and depression.

However, if the person feels no distress and encounters no impairment in his day-to-day life, he may not suffer from gender dysphoria.

Transgender People by Age and Ethnicity

demographics, people pie chart

According to 2016 data from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, of those in the US who identify as transgender, “55 percent identify as white, 16 percent identify as African-American or black, 21 percent identify as Latino or Hispanic, and 8 percent identify as another race or ethnicity.”

In addition, transgender youth ages 13-17 make up 0.7% of the youth population. That’s about 150,000 people. Transgender adults, ages 18-24, also make up 0.7% of their population. The percentages are very similar throughout the older age brackets. In the 25-64 age range, transgender people make up 0.6% of all people, and those 65 and older account for 0.5% of their demographic.

The largest populations of transgender youth within the 13-17 age category live in Texas, California, New York, and Florida. The smallest populations live in Wyoming, Vermont, and North Dakota.







Transgender Males vs. Transgender Females

Are there more transgender males or females?

Statistics like this are difficult to determine. However, some records indicate that there are more transgender men than transgender women. This is evident in a report from the American Society for Plastic Surgeons. It states that sex-reassignment surgery was the highest growing surgery in 2016-2017. During this time, these surgeries grew by 155%. The increase for transgender men was 289%. The increase for transgender women was much lower, at 41%.

In addition, since its founding in 1936, the Social Security Administration has kept a list of people who have changed names from one sex to another. Using this criterion, it identified 135,367 who were likely transgender people. Of these 135,367, 65% were transgender men and 35% were transgender women.

The census does not ask about transgenderism. However, according to the 2010 census, 89,667 people changed their names to the opposite sex. Many of these were likely transgender people. This number is a low estimate of the population, however. It leaves out people who did not change their names, or who don’t have a Social Security card.

In addition, “gender identity” can be fluid. Because it is not grounded in biological reality, it can change at a person’s whim. Thus, if a man decides he wants to identify as a woman, he may do so. But he can always change his mind a month, three months, or five years down the road.

Social and Economic Implications of Transgenderism

In our increasingly secular world where people want to live and let live, the trend is to allow people to do what feels good rather than what may benefit them as a whole person. Many people think, “He’s not hurting anyone. Why should I care?”

But whether they are hurting others or not, transgender individuals often suffer.

man head in hands sitting in hallway

A 2008 US survey found that transgender individuals were “four times more likely to live in extreme poverty.” In addition, they had twice the rate of unemployment. They were twice as likely to be homeless. They were four times as likely to be infected with HIV. And, because they feared discrimination, nearly one-third of transgenders were afraid to seek medical treatment.

Furthermore, 41% reported at least one attempt at suicide.

More than half (60%) of the people throughout the world claim they want to see more support and protection for transgender people. Similarly, about 60% of people worldwide believe that their country is becoming more tolerant.

U.S. Governmental Policy

Violence against a transgender person is considered a hate crime. And 20 states, plus D.C., have laws in effect that ban discrimination based on gender identity and sexual orientation in housing, employment, and in public accommodations.

Several other states have “incomplete” laws. These laws protect transgender people in some ways.

Openly transgender people cannot serve in the military. However, more than 60% of Americans believe that they should be able to.

A 2019 Public Religion Research Institute article about transgender support says that over 60% of Americans claim to be more supportive of transgender rights now than they were five years ago. The most supportive age group is young Americans. About 68% of people in the 18-29 age range report an increase in support.

Though it’s still a small percentage, the number of people identifying as transgender is increasing. This is likely due to the fact that people are more accepting of these alternate lifestyles. It is also likely that young people are encouraged to explore any feelings of gender confusion. Pressure from social media, pro-transgender groups, and peers play a role as well. Young people are encouraged to give in to their feelings of gender confusion. They are taught that any feelings or wants are okay to pursue.

Can a Person’s Sex Really Be Changed?

A person can have some of his sex organs changed. He can take hormones to suppress hair growth. He can change his clothes. But these things only affect appearance. An actual sex change is not physically possible. Science has proven that sex is encoded in our DNA from the moment a child is first created. Sex differences can be seen in our organs, bodily systems, and cells. A sex-change operation cannot change these things.

dna strand

Ryan T. Anderson, PhD, has done extensive research on transgenderism. In 2018, he wrote a book entitled When Harry Became Sally. Here, he examines the need to help people through their struggles to want to become the opposite sex. In a 2018 article, he asks two very poignant questions: “How do we define mental health and human flourishing? And what is the purpose of medicine, particularly psychiatry?”

He answers his own question when he states:

We flourish as human beings when we embrace the truth and live in accordance with it. A person might find some emotional relief in embracing a falsehood, but doing so would not make him or her objectively better off. Living by a falsehood keeps us from flourishing fully, whether or not it also causes distress.

Indeed, flourishing is what God wants for us. Our mental health is as important to God as our physical health. But neither is as important as our spiritual health.

The Catholic Church and Transgenderism

“God created mankind in His image; in the image of God He created them; male and female He created them.”

~Genesis 1:27

As Catholics, we believe that God created us in His image. Every single person has inherent dignity and value. Barring a chromosomal defect, human beings are either male or female. That’s a matter of science.

Recently, Archbishop Robert J. Carlson, of the Archdiocese of St. Louis, wrote a letter to his diocese entitled “Compassion and Challenge.” In it, he states:

There’s a wide variety of personalities, and they don’t always fit gender-stereotypes. But that doesn’t mean being male or female is negotiable, or that sex and gender can be separated….Catholic understanding of the human person holds that sex and gender cannot be separated, and that there are limits to how we should manipulate our bodies.

Education is key to helping our children grow in the faith. We can teach them to feel comfortable in their own bodies. It’s key to keeping them from making choices based on feelings. And it’s key to teaching them to love their bodies as God made them.

Archbishop Carlson states that we are called to offer compassion, not criticism, to those who are questioning their gender identity. He speaks of God’s infinite love for every person. He speaks of God’s mercy, and His plan for all of us.

Our world is rapidly changing. It’s difficult to go against the norm. It’s difficult to stand up and proclaim that God wants something better for us than to see us follow our every whim. But this is exactly what the archbishop encourages us to do. And he encourages us to do it with compassion and love toward others, especially those who may not agree with us. “Love and disagreement can co-exist,” he writes.

Final Thoughts

Transgenderism is becoming more accepted in society. That’s a reality. And it’s good that we have laws to protect all people. It is never right to hurt another, or to discriminate. We are all valuable children of God. We all deserve love and respect.

But, as Catholics, we are called to act in the person of Christ. Building a Culture of Life means that we must follow God’s laws. We must live and teach His love and mercy. We must teach the truth about gender and about sex. And we must be our brothers’ keepers. This means helping them flourish as children of God without destroying their bodies.


  1. Jessie Ignacio on September 30, 2020 at 7:06 PM

    Thanks for clarifying this.

  2. Evelyn Sprouse Rowe on November 26, 2020 at 7:10 PM

    Good article. Huge number of individuals fighting this spiritual…emotional…physical battle. Broken people in all three of theses areas are in a self destruct mode. The sins of brother against brother in the form of sexual abuse…mental abuse…physical abuse are producing brothers and sisters dealing with transgenderism, homosexuality, children of domineering dysfunctional parenting from broken dysfunctional partners…etc etc. AND WORST is A BROKEN SPIRITUAL PARENT “THE CHURCH”. The foundation of the first 12 years of a healthy child’s life MUST have one TRUE SPIRITUAL FATHER/MOTHER , PURE AND FREE FROM THESE ABUSES TO TURN THE NEXT GENERATION TO HEALING!

    • Dog on April 10, 2022 at 9:50 AM

      One thing not mentioned in the article is the mental health aspect of this. Low self esteem and dystopia are largely mental health issues. Instead of helping these confused people we have groups that are now trying to indoctrinate young people as transgender. It is no wonder that the numbers are rising. Parents who openly encourage transgenderism should be seen as child abusers. They are setting their children up for years of heartbreak and confusion. Transgender people used to be born with some anomaly in their genitalia which made a clear gender determination difficult. Now we have people that some how identify as the opposite sex with normal genitalia, evidenced by the surgery numbers. These people represent .6% of the country population and now seem to dominate every issue, every article, every facet of life in America. Feel sorry for them or distant them, they are largely poor folks with mental health issues that we are now supposed to encourage and embrace. Either way the need help, and not from the government.

  3. Maria on February 6, 2021 at 8:02 AM

    I found your article after praying why there seems to be a rise in transgender individuals and how I, as a Catholic, should respond to it. Your article is filled with data about transgender individuals but you spared only about two paragraphs on how faithful Catholics should bring Christ’s love to them. Do you have another article that provides examples on how to go about doing that?

    • HLI Staff on February 12, 2021 at 7:02 PM

      Excellent question, Maria. Human Life International primarily focuses on the pro-life issues of contraception, abortion, marriage, reproductive technologies and euthanasia. Consequently, you will find more resources on our website related to these target subjects than you will for related topics. We are actively securing long-term resources, both temporal and spiritual, for the on-going cultural battle, so please check our website often as additional articles are added. That being said, here’s a link to all of the gender issues articles currently on our site: And, if you missed the embedded link in the article to Archbishop Carlson’s pastoral letter to his diocese, here’s the direct link: It’s a beautiful message, with examples of how to act toward our brothers and sisters in Christ carrying the cross of gender identity.

  4. Cynthia Smith on February 25, 2021 at 9:12 PM

    After listening to Dr. Levine & Senator Rand Paul’s discussion on FB just now, I’d love for you to speak on MINORS requesting & receiving physical bodily mutilations in becoming transgender WITHOUT the consent of a parent! This is nuts! Please describe in detail the MENTAL HEALTH of these kids and their parents…. thank you!

  5. HLI Staff on February 28, 2021 at 1:15 AM

    Cynthia, Thank you for reading! You might be interested in the other articles related to transgenderism on our site (search transgenderism). One that comes to mind, in particular, is Fr. Boquet’s Spirit & Life newsletter which addresses dangers that the transgender ideology poses to children, Fr. Boquet publishes a new article weekly, so look for more coverage in future. If you’d like to learn more about upcoming articles, visit

  6. Muai Tohani on March 13, 2021 at 10:32 PM

    What about statistics of transgendered people in a monogamous relationship of 6 months or longer? My hypothesis is they are overwhelmingly single… hoping to “find love” only after they transition. I think good interpersonal relationships are key to a happy life. Kindness. Forgiveness. Love.

    • Geoffery on June 17, 2022 at 8:42 PM

      I’m not sure exactly what the stats are, but my wife and I have been married for almost 20 years. I’m a trans male, but didn’t know how to put my finger on it at the time. What I *did* know was who I loved. It had nothing to do with what my body parts looked like on the outside, and everything to do with the love I had in my heart for her. We got together when she was 17, I was 20. 13 years into our marriage, I was finally able to put my finger on it–I was (am) transgender. Trust me when I tell you that coming out to the love of my life scared me to death. I had no idea how she would take it, and I didn’t want to lose her. But I knew I had to… And to my surprise, she said “Oh…That explains a lot!” I learned that to her, it wasn’t about what I looked like–it was about the love that she had in her heart, and that we still have for each other all these years later.

  7. julius rosen on March 27, 2021 at 9:56 AM

    how can I believe an article that gets basic math wrong ?

    Its not 0.6% but way less at 0.003 %

    According to the Centers for Disease Control, about one million people in the U.S. identify as transgender. That’s about 0.6% of the adult population.

    • Jackson Myers on July 30, 2021 at 7:36 AM

      Simple, you cant

    • Bob Klammer on February 1, 2022 at 6:15 PM

      Julius, Here’s where I think your math went wrong. Using the total population of the US (~330M), we get:
      1M÷330M=0.003=0.3% (Not 0.003%)
      This reveals two errors. First, you forgot to move the decimal point two places to the right to convert decimal to percentage. Second, you used the TOTAL population of the US, when the article stated that the percentage was based on the ADULT population of the US (~250M).
      This doesn’t quite get us to 0.6%, but population data from a different year and for a different age range than I used here plus rounding error would easily account for this small discrepancy. I hope this helps your understanding of this article.

  8. Bryan on November 10, 2021 at 11:02 AM

    For those looking for a way to show love to their transgender brothers and sisters. I am a trans man and my grandma is Catholic. She disagrees with how I have mutilated my body but she still loves me the same. She uses my preferred name and pronouns. I think for Catholics, to show love you should help show people that they don’t need to have surgery or hormones because God gave them that body, but they can still identify how they need to identify. So use their preferred name and pronouns, but convince them to not mutilate their body.

    • Michael on March 13, 2022 at 3:55 PM

      Well said.

  9. Anonymous on December 6, 2021 at 5:10 PM

    God would want you to love your transgender siblings for only he can pass on judgement. We are your children, spouses, aunts, uncles, neighbors, teachers, doctors, members of your community. Treat us the way you want to be treated.

    Accept existence or Expect Resistance.

  10. Jrook on January 27, 2022 at 6:02 PM

    With all do respect if an individual does not have an underlying physiological imbalance which is at the center of their gender orientation than they should not be considered transgender. People holding their beliefs above science or medicine is a growing pathology across the globe. People decide that they can choose to believe climate change despite the underlying science which is at best irrational. So in analogous situation someone believing they are a different gender than their anatomical and physiological makeup is similarly at best irrational. Certainly it should not make them a victim and therefor not someone we should empathize with or make accommodations for. I’m pretty sure their are good psychiatrists and/or psychologists who can help those who are acting out of a belief or feeling, as opposed to an underlying physiological or hormonal condition that justifies making a change.

  11. Not ok with LGBTQLMNOP on April 25, 2022 at 9:12 AM

    60% are accepting of this? I think not. The suicide number is up to 50% now. The fact that the definition of Gender Dysphoria is defined by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders should tell us that this is a mental disorder that needs correcting, not encouraging. Get help, not hormones.

  12. Bev on August 3, 2022 at 5:24 PM

    It”s more complicated than DNA. A dualistic view of gender based on DNA should also consider intersex people who have male and female genitalia. What if they “feel” as if they are male (XX chromosones) and want to choose to be “male” but their chromosones are female (XY). Does that mean that God made them female? Things can go wrong in embryonic development, don’t you think? A fertilized egg may have XX but due to environmental influences such as meat with hormones, the fetal development may be affected. Maybe the increase in the transgender experience is due to environmental changes from the late 20th century. Anyone who has not studied human anatomy and genetics really has no business telling people they are perverted or that parents of transgenders should go to jail for child abuse. Christians need to let God work in each person and allow people the dignity to decide. We can’t see inside their cells or DNA OR in their pants. One other point, some people are born with variations in their gender identity chromosones (Klinefelter and Sywer syndromes).

  13. Angel on October 24, 2022 at 11:20 PM

    I did a search for the number of transgendered people in the United States and came across this page. I’d say that the piece was broken up into two parts – the first part was factual while the second was a Church perspective. I’m sure no one is surprised that, as a transgendered person, I wouldn’t agree with the Church’s characterization of transgenderism. That said, I did want to say that the first section was extremely informative, well written and included a plethora of accurate data. Thank you for that and well done.

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