We frequently talk about how changing demographics have an impact on the business world and require businesses to rethink how they present themselves to demographic groups as they grow larger and more influential. This is true both for corporate messaging as well as diversity and inclusion efforts. For example, growth in African American buying power from roughly $316 billion in 1990 to over $1.3 trillion in 2017 has caused many businesses to pay much more attention to this demographic both in terms of their marketing focus as well as their hiring practices. The same can be said for Hispanics and other minority groups as well as millennials and Gen Y.
But race and age aren’t the only categories of diversity and inclusion companies need to be thinking about. Gender identity has been an increasingly prominent topic in public discourse, much in the same way sexual orientation was a couple of decades ago. And, according to recent data, the number of people who identify as transgender or gender nonconforming is showing signs of increasing growth, meaning that companies will need to keep this group in mind as they avoid alienating or ignoring any segment of an increasingly diverse population.
As Lindsey Tanner writes for USA Today, “far more U.S. teens than previously thought are transgender or identify themselves using other nontraditional gender terms, with many rejecting the idea that girl and boy are the only options, new research suggests.” Tanner cites an analysis of a 2016 survey of 9th and 11th grade students throughout the state of Minnesota, which included nearly 81,000 teens. The survey found that nearly 2,200 – roughly three percent – identified as transgender or gender nonconforming. That’s significantly higher than a survey released just a year earlier. That UCLA study surveyed 150,000 kids between the ages of 13 and 17 and found that just 0.7 of those teens identified as transgender.
There are some important differences between the two surveys, so it’s difficult to point to any hard and fast growth figures. But even taken by itself, the Minnesota survey shows a surprisingly high number of young people identifying as transgender or gender nonconforming, which suggests that, as this group and others still younger start acquiring spending power, businesses will have to start paying attention.
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