According to over 2M surveys, attitudes about gender are changing worldwide


According to over 2M surveys, attitudes about gender are changing worldwide

Increasingly, survey makers in every country are offering more than two gender options.

Colette Des Georges

June 12, 2023 | 3 min read


June is Pride month, and this year, we’re starting it off with some heartening news: when it comes to gender inclusivity, the world is changing for the better. 

Research in 2022 estimated that more than 1.6 million Americans (.05% of the population) identify as transgender or nonbinary, including a significant portion of teenagers. As generations get more inclusive and comfortable exploring their identity, the DNA of the country starts to evolve. And like all social changes, this one has spurred resistance and polarization, and often even hate. In the hotbed of the American discourse, it can be difficult to get a sense of the state of equality globally. 

But across the world, millions of people are exploring their gender identities, recognizing fluidity in themselves, or simply becoming active allies. Many countries (like Germany, Sweden, and India) report much higher percentages of trans folks in their population than the U.S., and many more are engaging in conversations about equal rights and de-gendering certain traditional outlooks or ways of doing things. 

Both within the U.S. and internationally, data is reflecting slow, but hopeful, indicators of change. We encountered one of those indicators in our own data set: the number of answer options survey makers use in their questions about gender. We analyzed over two million surveys from across the world over the course of a decade (2012-2022). Here’s what we found out.

Worldwide, across the board, people are becoming more open-minded about gender

Traditionally, of course, people who were asking about gender in their surveys only included two answer options: female and male. Today, that isn’t the case, according to our analysis of all the surveys on our platform. In fact, the majority of people in the U.S. (64%) include at least three options for people to choose from, with 37% offering four options or more. The number of surveys with 3+ answer options has quadrupled in the past decade. (As of 2012, only 16% included another option or two.)

There are similar trends unfolding, more or less dramatically across the globe. In some countries, the overwhelming majority of surveys offer three or more options. 

For example:

  • 80% of Canadian surveys include more than two gender options.
  • Surveys from the U.K. include 2+ options 79% of the time, and passed the 50% mark way back in 2018.
  • Australia also moved to a majority of inclusive surveys in 2018, and currently stands at 78%.
  • The number of inclusive surveys in Japan has nearly tripled since 2017, with 73% including more than two options now. 
  • The Netherlands is about on par with the U.S., with two-thirds of surveys (62%) offering multiple gender options.

This growth isn’t limited to western countries or countries traditionally viewed as more progressive. Other countries are also showing more inclusive attitudes:

  • More than half (52%) of Brazilian surveys include more than two gender options.
  • India is almost halfway there, at 48%, and has more than tripled its number of inclusive surveys since 2017, when it was only at 14%. Both India and Brazil have more inclusive surveys than France (42%). 
  • Nigeria shows slow but steady growth as well, going from 4% in 2018 to 16% in 2022.
  • In Egypt, only 2% of surveys had inclusive gender options as of 2017, but by 2022, that number was up to 11%. 

There is another small indicator of growing respect, as well: the type of language used. In the U.S., for example, about one in five surveys (21%) now offers “non-binary” as a choice. This overtakes the less inclusive word  “other,” which used to be the most popular option but recently dipped to 13%. Other countries have made their own linguistic evolutions, and language remains closely tied to gender identity in different cultures. 

The questions people choose to ask, and the way they ask them, are telling. In this case, the story they tell is quite hopeful. Of course, every society is going through its own evolution. But in at least this one respect, it seems like there is a universal trend toward greater acceptance. 


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