Study: Half of Americans Now See Gender on a Spectrum

Brands should get ready for cisgender men in dresses, according to one research firm.

Separate products designed for men and women are so last decade—that is, according to a new study released by global market research firm Ipsos.

Nearly half of Americans now see gender on a spectrum, rather than along the binary, researchers say. Half of women and four in 10 men say that gender is a spectrum. That number jumps dramatically among people between ages 25–34 (55%). It’s even higher among LGBTQ people, 84% of whom see gender on a spectrum.

The study crunches numbers from 1,021 adults surveyed over three days in October 2019. It explores everything from pronoun usage among respondents (just 1% use they/them) to how many know someone who is transgender (16%).

Research has already found that younger people are identifying as nonbinary in greater numbers. The Williams Institute at the UCLA School of Law estimates that .6% of the population is transgender. Ipsos, meanwhile, says their research shows that 2.5% of Americans ages 18–24 identify as nonbinary.

That reality means companies need to swiftly recalibrate the way they approach product design and marketing, Ipsos says.

“Think about apparel and retail, which have for centuries been divided between traditional male/female splits,” the authors write. “What are they to do when cisgender men start shopping for dresses or jewelry? Products traditionally designed for men or for women should start rethinking whom their products serve.”

Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic for iHeartMedia

Still, many Americans have work to do, the report notes. Many don’t know what “gender nonbinary” means.

In particular, cisgender men (31%) reported feeling excluded from conversations about gender, and 44% said they feel they will be attacked for vocalizing their thoughts on gender. Men were also more likely have regressive views on gender. While 46% of women said they thought gender boiled down to a person’s reproductive organs at birth, 55% of men held the same view.

Still, the report is full of brighter prospects for LGBTQ people. One of the questions respondents were asked is whether they have laughed at a joke at the expense of an LGBTQ person. Just 16% said yes, while 57% answered no. Respondents also overwhelmingly said same-gender attraction should be protected by law (61%), and just 7% said it should be illegal.

Kate Sosin is an award-winning, trans-identified news and investigative reporter.
@shoeleatherkate