Measuring Transgender and Non-Binary Identities in Online Surveys: Evidence from Two National Election Studies

30 March 2023, Version 1


A small but growing number of people identify as transgender or non-binary. Their political attitudes and behavior are important to examine, but we know little about them. We argue that current survey research practices for identifying transgender and non-binary respondents fall short in treating “transgender” as something to ascribe onto people rather than as a social identity. Current practices likewise show evidence of measurement error. We illustrate the consequences of common conceptualization and measurement issues by analyzing two large-sample online surveys–the 2019 and 2021 Canadian Election Study (CES) online panels. We find that the 2019 CES generates inflated estimates of the percentage of non-binary people and potentially distorts the correlates of non-binary identity because transgender men and women select the same “Other” response category as non-binary respondents. We conclude with recommendations for future political surveys.


Supplementary materials

Online Appendices/Supplementary Material
Online Appendices/Supplementary Material

Supplementary weblinks

2021 CES at Harvard Dataverse
2021 Canadian Election Study Data and Documentation
2019 CES at Harvard Dataverse
2019 Canadian Election Study Data and Documentation


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