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Can We Stop Quoting the “1 in 12” Statistic, Please?

November 20, 2013

“1 in 12 transgender people are murdered.”

I love stats as much as the next person, but until we can actually source this number, can we stop quoting it?

As today is Transgender Day of Remembrance, I’ve seen that statistic waved around quite a bit. Ask anyone, though, and they cannot point you to the true source of that number. “It was on the HRC website, but now it’s gone.” Actually, looking at a cached version of the page, no where does it say “1 in 12” or “an 8.33% chance,” or anything of the sort. I’ve seen a lot of bloggers who are just referencing one another, but no primary sources.

Others have pointed to the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reporting Program.

I read through the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reporting Program, hoping for some insight as to where this number had originated, and while I did find one of the most solidly great resources for explaining Trans 101 to someone (seriously, go check it out), I couldn’t find data that would lead me to that conclusion.

The Williams Institute pegs the number at 0.3% of the general population. The National Center for Transgender Equality believes the number is somewhere between 0.25 and 1% of the general population.

There are 313,900,00 people in the United States. Using the number provided by the Williams Institute, that would mean there are 941,700 transgender people in the United States. Using the high range of the NCTE number, there may be as many as 3,139,000 transgender people throughout the country. For the sake of argument, let’s find a spot between those two numbers: 0.65% of the population, or 2,040,350 transgender people.

If we are to believe that “1 in 12 transgender people are murdered,” we’d need to believe that over the course of our lifetime (and excluding any future trans people who have yet to be born), more than 170,000 trans people will be murdered. For reference, in 2010, there were a total of 16,259 homicides. That’s total. For all people, transgender and cisgender.

On average, there are roughly 20-25 transgender people murdered in the U.S. annually. I know this number is likely grossly underestimated, but hold on. Over the course of 80 years, roughly the span of a life, that would mean 2,000 trans people will have been murdered. Even if the true number of trans murders is ten times as high, that would only put us at 20,000 trans people murdered (which, obviously, is a lot, but certainly not the 170,000 needed to make the “1 in 12 number” work)

I’m not saying any of this data should be used as a statistic to point to. What I am saying is that it appears extremely unlikely that the “1 in 12” number is correct. Far too many trans people find themselves the victims of ant-transgender violence, but luckily for us, it’s not 1 out of every 12 of us.

 

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