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Socioeconomic profile of the 2SLGBTQ+ population aged 15 years and older, 2019 to 2021

Released: 2024-01-25

Statistics Canada released three data tables on the population who is Two-Spirit, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer, or who uses other terms related to gender and sexual diversity (2SLGBTQ+). Using combined cycles of the Canadian Community Health Survey (CCHS) (2019 to 2021), these tables help fill a data gap on the 2SLGBTQ+ population in Canada.

Data on selected socioeconomic characteristics for the 2SLGBTQ+ population are available, with separate tables for the transgender and non-binary population, and for the population whose reported sexual orientation is lesbian, gay, bisexual or another sexual orientation that is not heterosexual (LGB+).

Overall, 1 in 10 youth report being 2SLGBTQ+

According to data from the 2019 to 2021 CCHS, approximately 1.3 million people, or 4.4% of the Canadian population aged 15 years and older, reported being 2SLGBTQ+. Among the 2SLGBTQ+ population, 52.7% were cisgender women, 39.2% were cisgender men, 3.9% were transgender women or transgender men, and 4.2% were non-binary people (see Note to readers). Transgender or non-binary people accounted for 0.3% of the total population aged 15 years and older.

Overall, 1 in 10 youth aged 15 to 24 years (10.5%) reported being 2SLGBTQ+, a significantly larger share than among any other age group. By comparison, 4.1% of adults aged 25 to 64 years and 1.3% of adults aged 65 years and older indicated being 2SLGBTQ+. Looking specifically at gender diversity, around 1% of youth aged 15 to 24 years reported being transgender or non-binary. It is possible that older people are less likely to report being 2SLGBTQ+ because of having lived a significant part of their life in a society that was less accepting of gender and sexual diversity.

Lower income among 2SLGBTQ+ individuals despite higher educational attainment

Among the population aged 25 to 64 years, a higher proportion of 2SLGBTQ+ individuals (40.3%) held a bachelor's degree and above than cisgender and heterosexual (i.e., non-2SLGBTQ+) people (36.8%). Conversely, a trade qualification as the highest level of education was more common among non-2SLGBTQ+individuals (9.2%) than 2SLGBTQ+ people (6.3%).

Despite these educational outcomes, a larger share of 2SLGBTQ+ people (18.4%) aged 25 to 64 years were in the bottom personal income quintile, relative to non-2SLGBTQ+people (13.5%). Among the LGB+ population, income gaps were mainly seen for the bisexual population. It is possible that the younger age structure of the 2SLGBTQ+ population and factors related to differences in employment patterns, occupations and industries contribute to these income gaps.

Among 2SLGBTQ+ people, 3 in 10 consider their mental health to be fair or poor

Among the population aged 15 years and older, 3 in 10 2SLGBTQ+ people (29.7%) reported their mental health to be fair or poor, compared with fewer than 1 in 10 non-2SLGBTQ+individuals (9.1%). Conversely, a smaller proportion of 2SLGBTQ+ individuals (70.3%) reported that their mental health was good, very good or excellent when compared with their non-2SLGBTQ+ counterparts (90.9%).

Transgender or non-binary people (54.7%) were over five times as likely as cisgender people (9.9%) to consider their mental health to be fair or poor. The likelihood of reporting fair or poor mental health was also higher for bisexual (36.8%) and gay or lesbian (16.9%) people than for heterosexual people (9.1%). Minority stress, that is, chronic stress related to social stigma, discrimination and the internalization of negative societal attitudes, is a common explanation for poorer mental health outcomes among the 2SLGBTQ+ population.

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  Note to readers

The Government of Canada adopted the acronym 2SLGBTQI+ to refer to Two-Spirit, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and intersex people and those who use other terms related to gender and sexual diversity. Statistics Canada uses the acronym 2SLGBTQ+ for data analysis purposes, as information is not yet specifically collected about intersex people in surveys.

The term "cisgender" refers to people whose reported gender corresponds to their reported sex at birth, while the term "transgender" refers to people whose reported gender does not correspond to their reported sex at birth. In this release, the term "non-binary" is used to describe all genders that are neither exclusively man nor woman, although individuals might self-identify with other terms.

The Canadian Community Health Survey (CCHS) covers the population aged 12 years and older living in all provinces and territories. Excluded from the survey's coverage are people living on reserves and other Indigenous settlements in the provinces, full-time members of the Canadian Forces, the institutionalized population, and residents of certain remote regions. With a sample of 65,000 respondents each year, the survey is a well-suited data source for research on smaller populations, such as the 2SLGBTQ+ population living in Canada.

The tables present pooled data from CCHS survey cycles 2019 to 2021 (provincial data) and 2019 to 2020 (territorial data). Weights have been adjusted to represent the total average population over the years where data are available.

The CCHS estimate of the proportion of transgender or non-binary people (0.3%) among the total population aged 15 years and older corresponds with the percentage of this population (0.3%) in the 2021 Census.

Products

The data tables Socioeconomic characteristics of the 2SLGBTQ+ population, 2019 to 2021 (13-10-0874-01), Socioeconomic characteristics of the LGB+ population, 2019 to 2021 (13-10-0876-01), and Socioeconomic characteristics of the transgender and non-binary population, 2019 to 2021 (13-10-0875-01), are now available.

Contact information

For more information, or to enquire about the concepts, methods or data quality of this release, contact us (toll-free 1-800-263-1136; 514-283-8300; infostats@statcan.gc.ca) or Media Relations (statcan.mediahotline-ligneinfomedias.statcan@statcan.gc.ca).

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