Félix Saparelli

(about me)

a.k.a. passcod

Enby stats

Posted on Dec 23 ‘14

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So the other day after tweeting a few #NBRightsNow words mostly because Alice started retweeting good ones, I went ahead and researched statistics regarding non-binary people. Unsurprisingly, the information is pretty scarce. I searched far and wide and found only two sources that had actual numbers and analysis instead of hand-waving:

UK Census 2011

Don’t get your hopes up. This census didn’t include a “non-binary” gender box. In fact, the UK census office has been pretty clear in that they will not make that a reality any time soon. Fuckers. (However, that census might get scraped altogether, so it may be that there will never ever be a NB-friendly census in the UK.)

However, they did record how many people either filled in both F and M boxes, or filled none, or wrote something else in the space instead. While I find that quite flimsy as a measure of non-binarism, it’s better than nothing.

Practical Androgyny makes an in-depth analysis of the question, and finds a 0.5% figure of non-binaries. That figure is, of course, to take as highly under-reported.

New Zealand

A more reliable statistic comes from a study by the University of Auckland. It shows a much higher figure: 2.5% of “not sure” and 1% of “transgender” in a representative sample.

Identification is tricky. Will a trans identify as NB? Are all NB trans? Does trans mean “not cis” or does it mean “someone previously identified as one gender and who now identifies as another”? Are those two different? How many of those who are “not sure” are actually cis, how many are NB? How many respondents answered incorrectly for a laugh?

(Actually, ignore that last one as a good study usually has checks in place to prevent these things from skewing the results.)


So let’s say that the proportion of non-binaries is between 0.5% and 3.5%. Say 2%. I then searched for some statistic that would give it more punch. Raw numbers aren’t very useful. Humans have difficulty visualising very small or large numbers. Comparisons are better understood on a fundamental level, and may pack more emotional power, if chosen carefully.

I had some trouble with that. You see, I kept trying to go for the mundane (you are, of course, more likely to by an enby than to win the lottery, but also more likely than to die in a car accident), or for the bizarre (you’re less likely than to not be anyone’s best friend, but more likely than to be a twin, triplet, or quadruplet).

A better comparison is that being NB is as or more likely than to be gay.

Now tell me again how non-binary people are statistical errors.