You may have seen the recent Vanity Fair cover of former Olympian and reality star Caitlyn Jenner. As a cultural icon who crosses generations — from her time as a gold-medal winning athlete in 1976, to her starring role on the hit show Keeping up with the Kardashians — Jenner has been in the spotlight for a long time.
But what about the people in your life — your coworkers, classmates, friends or casual acquaintances — who haven’t stepped out at all?
There’s a strong chance you think you don’t know a transgender man or woman. But the reality is that many transgender people are not out publicly.
As described by FiveThirtyEight today, most U.S. adults don’t think they personally know someone who is transgender. In a Public Religion Research Institute survey conducted in 2013, 89 percent of 4,509 respondents said they did not have a close friend or family member who was transgender.
In a smaller PRRI survey of 1,006 people, 24 percent didn’t even know the definition of “transgender.” (It’s when a person identifies with a gender different from the one they were assigned at birth.)
At the same time, another 2011 survey of 6,456 gender non-conforming and transgender adults revealed that 12 percent had never told anyone about their gender identity. What’s more, 41 percent said they were “generally not out.” The survey was published by the National Center for Transgender Equality and the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force.
The image of Jenner on the cover of this month’s Vanity Fair issue created the opportunity for reflection on society’s treatment of people who are transgender.
“By sharing her journey with the world, Caitlyn Jenner is accelerating acceptance of transgender people everywhere and reminds us all how important it is to to live as your most authentic self,” Sarah Kate Ellis, president and CEO of GLAAD, said.
In an interview with Diane Sawyer, Jenner said she hopes her story will increase awareness and education about the transgender community: “What I’m doing is going to do some good, and we’re going to change the world.”