June 23, 2022

2021 Census population trends: Population by gender

On April 27, Statistics Canada released the second set of results from its 2021 census of the Canadian population. This release focuses on the demographic profile of Canadians—by age, sex, gender, and type of dwelling.

Data from the 2021 census will be issued in seven waves over the course of 2022. The next issue will be released on July 23 and include information on families, households, marital status; military experience; and income. We are tracking each of these releases to bring you a snapshot of how Alberta is evolving over time.

Our last census analysis looked at the generational composition of Canada’s population and broke it down by province. As it is Pride month, today we are looking at sex and, for the first time in Canada, gender. By including a question on gender and a separate question on sex at birth, Canada is the first country to provide census data on transgender and non-binary people.

The country

Of Canada’s 30.3 million people aged 15 and older, nearly 60,000 are transgender, and just over 40,000 are non-binary. Together, they comprise 0.33% of this population or about 1 in 300 people.

Those who are transgender or non-binary disproportionately come from the younger generations. The proportion of transgender and non-binary individuals is three to five times higher for Gen Z (0.79%) and Millennials (0.51%) than for Generation X (0.19%) and Baby Boomers (0.15%). Better access to information on gender diversity and a greater prevalence of gender-affirming attitudes among the younger generations likely contributes to more individuals in these cohorts identifying as transgender or non-binary.

The provinces

Nearly 40% of transgender and non-binary people live in Ontario, Canada’s most populous province. And this share of transgender and non-binary people is proportionate to Ontario’s share of Canada’s population 15 years of age and older (39%).

However, the extent of gender diversity does vary from province to province. In British Columbia and Nova Scotia, about 1 in 225 people are transgender or non-binary—representing a greater proportion of the population than the national average of 1 in 300. Alberta, too, has a slightly higher proportion of transgender and non-binary people in the province—about 1 in 270.

Quebec is the only province with a significantly lower proportion of transgender and non-binary people than the national average—about 1 in 435.

As mentioned, transgender and non-binary people are younger on average than cisgender people, making up a higher proportion of those aged 15-34 than those 35 and older. For example, in British Columbia and Nova Scotia, around 1 in 100 people between 15 and 34 years old are transgender and non-binary as opposed to about 1 in 435 in the population 35 years and older.

Urban vs Rural

Most transgender and non-binary people choose to live in urban centers over rural areas. Across Canada, 84% of the population aged 15 and up live in census metropolitan areas (an urban centre of at least 100,000 people) or census agglomerations (a smaller urban centre of at least 10,000 people). Comparatively, 93% of transgender and non-binary people live in either census metropolitan areas (CMAs) or census agglomerations (CAs).

Transgender and non-binary people can be found in the largest proportions in CMAs on both coasts, including Victoria (1 in 135), Halifax (1 in 150), Fredericton (1 in 170), and Nanaimo (1 in 180).

A snapshot of Alberta

There are 7,305 transgender and 5,165 non-binary people in Alberta, together comprising 0.37% of the population 15 years of age and older. As is consistent with the rest of the country, most of Alberta’s transgender and non-binary individuals are younger—64% are under 35 years old.

Four in five of Alberta’s transgender and non-binary persons live in one of Alberta’s CMAs—Calgary, Edmonton, Lethbridge, or Red Deer. Together, these CMAs represent 75% of Alberta’s population aged 15 and up.

Of Alberta’s CMAs, the highest proportion of transgender and non-binary people can be found in Lethbridge (1 in 205), followed by Edmonton (1 in 230), Red Deer (1 in 250), and lastly, Calgary (1 in 255).

The census provides policymakers with important information about how the Canadian population is growing and evolving. Collecting data on gender diversity helps us identify and better understand potential gaps in health and economic outcomes between cisgender and transgender/non-binary populations. Policymakers can use this information to better target supports and programs for transgender and non-binary people.

Emma Dizon, Policy Analyst

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