The Census 2021 provides us with the most comprehensive and up to date picture of London’s population. This is our third piece in a series of interactive maps and deep dives exploring what the data shows us about London’s populations and deprivation. WPI Economics take a look at the link between gender identity and deprivation.
Census 2021 is the first census to ask a question about gender identity and it allows us to measure the size of the transgender population in the UK for the first time. A voluntary question - that was answered by 91% of London’s residents - asked census respondents if the gender they identify with is the same as their sex registered at birth. If they answered “No”, respondents were able to write in their gender identity.
This is a hugely important step towards having robust and consistent data on part of London’s population (and indeed the whole UK’s), that has previously been absent from systematic data collection. However, it is also very much a first step. Any significant changes to major population studies come with risks, including around respondents’ understanding of the question and non-response. As such, new and even established questions in household surveys go through revisions and improvements over time. This is as true for this set of questions on gender identity as it is any other area. As such, it is unsurprising that there is ongoing debate about how different populations may have interpreted the wording of the question and the validity of the results that come from Census 2021.
Some users have raised concerns regarding the estimates of the transgender population. One particular concern has been around groups that have English as a Second Language and a strong correlation between the reporting of gender identity being different from sex registered at birth for certain ethnic minority groups. In response to this, the ONS has so far confirmed that groups who do not have English as their main language were involved during development and testing of the question and that there was no systematic misunderstanding of the question during the testing phase. Translations of the census were also provided in 50 different languages for those for whom English is not their main language.
Given the importance of this data it is right that the ONS is also undertaking additional research to explore the validity of the census findings and how they can best be used going forward. Until we have the results of this work, caution needs to be taken when interpreting data on gender identity from the Census, including our own analysis below and in our interactive map.
However, for now, the data from the census is the best that is available for helping to understand the size and distribution of the transgender community in London. As such, the sections below outline what we can say based on this data. We hope that they provide a useful contribution to the debate over the quality of these data and we will be revisiting this topic, and updating users of London’s Poverty Profile, as and when the ONS releases its findings.
Transgender identity in London
Among respondents from London, 0.9% of the population reported that they have a gender identity different from their sex registered at birth. The distribution of these respondents varies by borough across London with Newham (1.5%), Brent (1.3%) and Haringey (1.2%) having the largest proportion and Richmond upon Thames (0.4%), Bromley (0.4%) and City of London (0.5%) having the smallest.
Londoners who selected that they have a gender identity different from their sex registered at birth were also able to write-in their gender identity. From this we can see there is variation in the number of people identifying as trans men and trans women across London boroughs. Since these answers were actively written in by the respondents, there is less concern that they are the result of misinterpretation of the question by ESL speakers. The highest population of trans women is found in Barking and Dagenham (0.25%) and the lowest in Bromley (0.07%). For trans men, Brent (0.28%) has the highest population and City of London (0.06%) the lowest.
Transgender identity and deprivation
Existing research shows that Londoners whose gender identity is different from their sex registered at birth are a marginalised group who face multiple barriers regarding healthcare, education, housing and employment. The responses to Census 2021 also suggest a correlation between Londoners with a different gender ID and areas with higher levels of deprivation. In London’s 10% most deprived neighbourhoods, the proportion of residents reporting a gender identity different from their sex at birth is 3.5 times higher than in the 10% least deprived - 0.37% vs 1.34%.
If we look at the population of Londoners who responded that they are either a trans man or trans woman, we see the same correlation, i.e. transgender people are more likely to live in areas with higher deprivation. In London’s 10% most deprived neighbourhoods, the proportion of transgender residents (0.46%) is more than 3 times higher than in the 10% least deprived (0.148). The London neighbourhood with the highest proportion of transgender residents is St Raphaels in Brent (1.4%), which is among the 10% most deprived neighbourhoods in London. Conversely Crofton in Bromley is the only London neighbourhood with no transgender residents and among the 10% least deprived neighbourhoods.
Zooming in on Haringey
The interactive census map also allows us to see this trend playing out within boroughs. In Haringey, the results suggest that both trans men and trans women are more likely to live in more deprived neighbourhoods. The transgender community on average makes up 0.52% of the population in Haringey’s most deprived neighbourhoods – e.g. Lordship Lane & Broadwater farm (0.8%) and Bruce Grove North (0.6%) – but only 0.17% of the population in the least deprived neighbourhoods - e.g. Alexandra Park (0.1%).
Deprivation and transgender identity in Haringey
Population of trans men and women in Haringey neighbourhoods
A similar correlation can be seen in many other boroughs across the city. Explore the interactive map to see the link between deprivation and gender identity in your borough.