How Many Americans Identify as LGBT?
June 9, 2017 by Justin Lehmiller
How many people in the United States identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender (LGBT)? A large, nationally representative survey conducted by Gallup last year put the overall number at 4.1% of the U.S. population. It is worth noting that this number increased from 3.5% in 2012, which suggests that as the LGBT community has made more social and political gains–including nationwide marriage equality–more and more Americans have decided to come out.
The overall number is just one small part of the story here, though. What is even more interesting about this survey is that it reveals a major generational divide when it comes to how many Americans identify as LGBT. You can see exactly what I’m talking about in the table below.
Percentage of Americans responding affirmatively to the question “Do you personally identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender?” by birth cohort (2012-2016)
As these numbers reveal, millennials have become more likely to report LGBT identities in recent years. By contrast, we haven’t really seen any changes in reports of LGBT identities among Generation X’ers, whereas LGBT identification among Baby Boomers and older generations actually appears to have declined slightly. These trends are fascinating because they suggest that as millennials age, the overall percentage of the population that identities as LGBT is likely to continue growing.
All in all, what this tells us that when we see any survey or study that attempts to establish the prevalence of LGBT identification, we shouldn’t necessarily take the results as definitive, but rather as snapshots in time.
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Dr. Justin LehmillerFounder & Owner of Sex and Psychology
Dr. Justin Lehmiller is a social psychologist and Research Fellow at The Kinsey Institute. He runs the Sex and Psychology blog and podcast and is author of the popular book Tell Me What You Want. Dr. Lehmiller is an award-winning educator, and a prolific researcher who has published more than 50 academic works.Read full bio >