In 2017, the Canadian government amended the Canadian Human Rights Act and the Canadian Criminal Code to protect individuals from discrimination and hate crimes based on gender identity and expression.
Prior to the 2021 Census, some individuals indicated that they were not able to see themselves in the two responses of male or female on the existing sex question in the census.
Since 2021, the specificity of “at birth” was added to the sex question on the census questionnaire, and a new question on gender was included. As a result, the historical continuity of information on sex was maintained while allowing all cisgender, transgender and non-binary individuals to report their gender, therefore addressing an important information gap on gender diversity.
For many people, their gender corresponds to their sex at birth (cisgender men and cisgender women). For some, these do not align (transgender men and transgender women) or their gender is not exclusively ‘man’ or ‘woman’ (non-binary people).
The role of the census is to provide reliable data for local communities throughout the country and for smaller populations such as the transgender and non-binary populations.
These modifications are designed to reflect current reality regarding the evolving acceptance and understanding of gender and sexual diversity as well as an emerging social and legislative recognition of transgender, non-binary and LGBTQ2+ people in this country, including people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, Two-Spirit or who use other terms related to gender or sexual diversity.
These data can be used by public decision makers, employers and providers of health care, education, justice and other services to better meet the needs of all men and women – including transgender men and women – and non-binary people in their communities.
Of the nearly 30.5 million people in Canada aged 15 and older living in a private household in May 2021, 100,815 were transgender (59,460) or non-binary (41,355), accounting for 0.33% of the population in this age group.
The proportions of transgender and non-binary people were three to seven times higher for Generation Z (born between 1997 and 2006, 0.79%) and millennials (born between 1981 and 1996, 0.51%) than for Generation X (born between 1966 and 1980, 0.19%), baby boomers (born between 1946 and 1965, 0.15%) and the Interwar and Greatest Generations (born in 1945 or earlier, 0.12%).
Over time, the acceptance and understanding of gender and sexual diversity has evolved. Further, there has been social and legislative recognition of transgender, non-binary and LGBTQ2+ people in general. Younger generations may be more comfortable reporting their gender identity than older generations.
Canada is the first country to collect and publish data on gender diversity from a national census.