CLARKSBURG, W.Va. (WBOY) — If you’ve read the news recently, you may have heard the statistic that “West Virginia has the highest percentage of trans youth in the nation.” But is that true?
On Wednesday, the statistic resurfaced when WVU President E. Gordon Gee and Director of Athletics Wren Baker released a statement in the wake of a controversy over WVU Men’s Basketball Coach Bob Huggins’ use of an anti-gay slur when he was referring to Catholic fans at Xavier University. The statement cited The Williams Institute when giving the figure, saying “Next, according to the Williams Institute, West Virginia has the highest percentage of transgender youth in the nation.”
News outlets including The Associated Press, Fox News, Politico and ABC News often cite a 2017 study by UCLA Law’s The Williams Institute when giving the statistic. That study did find that West Virginia was the state with the highest percentage of trans youth, kids between the ages of 13 and 17, at the time, 1.04%. It found that 1.12% of kids in the same age group in Washington, D.C. identified as transgender, but the District of Colombia is not a state.
But 2017 was six years ago. Since then, The Williams Institute has released new numbers. The most recent data available from the organization was release in June of 2022.
The updated numbers show that the number of kids between the ages of 13 and 17 who identify as transgender has gone down since 2017, and is now 0.68%, or 700, according to the study.
That would actually make West Virginia tied with Kentucky as having the third lowest percentage of kids between the ages of 13 and 17 who identify as transgender as of the study, with only New Jersey at 0.67%, or 3,800 and Wyoming at 0.56%, or 200, having a lower percentage.
The states (and D.C.) with the highest percentages as of the study released in June 2022, according to The Williams Institute, are:
- New York, 3.00%, or 34,800
- New Mexico, 2.62% or 3,700
- Hawaii, 2.15% or 1,700
- Washington, D.C., 2.11% or 600
- Maryland, 2.08% or 8,000
Click here to read The Williams Institute’s full study release in June 2022.