LOS ANGELES, Calif. — An estimated 6 percent of sexual minority adults in the U.S. identify as queer, according to a new study, entitled “Exploring the Q in LGBTQ: Demographic characteristic and sexuality of queer people in a U.S. representative sample of sexual minorities,” by the Williams Institute at the University of California, Los Angeles School of Law. Those who identify as queer are overwhelmingly cisgender women or genderqueer/non-binary (GQNB); they are also younger and more highly educated than other sexual minorities.
Researchers examined a representative sample of sexual minorities in the U.S. from three age groups — young (18-25), middle (34-41), and older (52-59) — to determine the demographics and sexuality of people who identify as queer, compared to those who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, or as other sexual minority identities.
In terms of sexuality, queer individuals are more likely than other sexual minorities to report attraction to, and sexual relationships with, transgender and GQNB people, though differences emerge by gender identity.
“We find in this study that queer individuals make up a sizable proportion of sexual minorities, who are distinct in a number of important ways from other sexual minority people, both in terms of demographic characteristics and sexuality, and across gender identity. Additional research is needed to fully understand this population,” said lead author Shoshana K. Goldberg, a research consultant at the Williams Institute.
Findings from the study included:
• Among sexual minorities, 6 percent identify as queer, 50 percent identify as lesbian/gay, 41 percent identify as bisexual, and 7 percent use another sexual minority identity (e.g., pansexual).
• The majority (83 percent) of queer individuals were assigned female at birth.
• An estimated 56 percent of queer people are cisgender women and 10 percent are cisgender males.
• Over one-third of queer people identify as GQNB (34 percent), including 27 percent who were assigned female at birth and 7 percent assigned male at birth.
• The majority of queer individuals (76 percent) are young, aged 18-25. An additional fifth (22 percent) are aged 34-41, with the remaining 2 percent from the oldest age group (age 52-59).
• 39 percent of queer individuals have graduated from college or obtained a postgraduate degree compared with 32 percent of lesbians and gay men, 17 percent of bisexual people, and 25 percent of other sexual minorities.
• 85 percent of queer cisgender women report attraction to both men and women. Almost two-thirds (62 percent) were attracted to both cisgender and transgender women, substantially more than the rate at which lesbians (20 percent) and bisexual women (38 percent) are attracted to both. Queer cisgender women were substantially more likely than women of all other sexual minority groups to have had transgender sexual partners (either transgender men or transgender women).
• 47 percent of queer cisgender men report attraction to both men and women. 72 percent were attracted to both cisgender and transgender men. Queer cisgender men were substantially more likely than men of other sexual minority groups to have had sexual partners who are transgender men (reported by approximately 30 percent of queer cisgender men, versus 11 percent of bisexual men, and 2 percent of gay men).
“The term ‘queer’ has a long history with different connotations for sexual minorities,” said study author Ilan H. Meyer, Distinguished Senior Scholar of Public Policy at the Williams Institute. “Some older people learned it as a derogatory term, but later it was claimed by academics as a critical term and field of study, and some young people may perceive it as an identity that is more fluid than ‘lesbian’ and ‘gay.’ Queer identity seems to represent greater openness to partners of all gender identities.”