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2015 U.S. Transgender Survey (USTS)

Resource Type
Dataset : survey data
  • James, Sandy E.
  • Herman, Jody
  • Keisling, Mara
  • Mottet, Lisa
  • Anafi, Ma'ayan
Other Title
  • USTS (Alternative Title)
  • Version 1 (Subtitle)
Publication Date
Publication Place
Ann Arbor, Michigan
  • Inter-University Consortium for Political and Social Research
Free Keywords
Schema: ICPSR
assault; discrimination; family life; gender identity; HIV; homelessness; military service; peer groups; prejudice; sexual assault; sexual harassment; sexually transmitted disease; social inequality; substance abuse; transgender
  • Abstract

    The 2015 U.S. Transgender Survey (USTS) was conducted by the National Center for Transgender Equality (NCTE) to examine the experiences of transgender adults in the United States. The USTS questionnaire was administered online and data were collected over a 34-day period in the summer of 2015, between August 19 and September 21. The final sample included respondents from all fifty states, the District of Columbia, American Samoa, Guam, Puerto Rico, and U.S. military bases overseas. The USTS Public Use Dataset (PUDS) features survey results from 27,715 respondents and details the experiences of transgender people across a wide range of areas, such as education, employment, family life, health, housing, and interactions with police and prisons. The survey instrument had thirty-two sections that covered a broad array of topics, including questions related to the following topics (in alphabetical order): accessing restrooms; airport security; civic participation; counseling; family and peer support; health and health insurance; HIV; housing and homelessness; identity documents; immigration; intimate partner violence; military service; police and incarceration; policy priorities; public accommodations; sex work; sexual assault; substance use; suicidal thoughts and behaviors; unequal treatment, harassment, and physical attack; and voting. Demographic information includes age, racial and ethnic identity, sex assigned at birth, gender and preferred pronouns, sexual orientation, language(s) spoken at home, education, employment, income, religion/spirituality, and marital status.
  • Abstract

    The purpose of the 2015 USTS was to gather information on the lives and experiences of transgender people in the United States and to serve as a resource for researchers, policymakers, and advocates seeking to better understand the disparities faced by transgender people. The 2015 USTS serves as a follow-up to the 2008-09 National Transgender Discrimination Survey (NTDS), and supplements the NTDS with more current and comprehensive data. USTS investigators plan to conduct the USTS every five years to allow researchers to measure changes in the experiences of transgender people over time.
  • Methods

    The USTS questionnaire was developed by a team of researchers and advocates and administered online to transgender adults residing in the United States. The survey instrument was designed to gather information about disparities that often exist between transgender people and non-transgender people in the U.S. To achieve this, many questions in the USTS were modeled after questions used in federal surveys to allow comparisons between the USTS sample and the U.S. population as a whole. Questions were selected to best match those previously asked in federal government or other national surveys on a number of measures, such as measures related to income and health. The survey was distributed through extensive, community-based outreach and was made accessible via any web-enabled device (e.g., computer, tablet, netbook, smart phone), accessible for respondents with disabilities (e.g., through screen readers), and made available in English and Spanish. Rankin and Associates Consulting hosted the survey on several secure servers. The survey was accessed exclusively through a website created specifically for the promotion and distribution of the survey ( For additional information on the study design, including detailed information on recruitment activities and survey-taking events, please see the Questionnaire Design and Data Collection Methods sections of the Methodology Report.
  • Methods

    ICPSR data undergo a confidentiality review and are altered when necessary to limit the risk of disclosure. ICPSR also routinely creates ready-to-go data files along with setups in the major statistical software formats as well as standard codebooks to accompany the data. In addition to these procedures, ICPSR performed the following processing steps for this data collection: Checked for undocumented or out-of-range codes..
  • Abstract


    • DS0: Study-Level Files
    • DS1: USTS Public Use Dataset (PUDS)
    • DS2: USTS Restricted Use Qualitative Dataset
Temporal Coverage
  • Time period: 2015
  • Collection date: 2015-08-19--2015-09-21
  • 2015-08-19 / 2015-09-21
Geographic Coverage
  • United States
Sampled Universe
Individuals self-identified as transgender, trans, genderqueer, non-binary, or other identities on the transgender identity spectrum aged 18 and older residing in the fifty U.S. states, the District of Columbia, American Samoa, Guam, Puerto Rico, and U.S. military bases overseas. Smallest Geographic Unit: State
The USTS sample was a purposive sample that was created using direct outreach, modified venue-based sampling, and "snowball" sampling. As a non-probability sample, generalizability is limited and the USTS sample may not be representative of the broader transgender population in the U.S. The main recruitment objective was to provide broad and equal opportunity to participate in the survey for as many transgender individuals as possible across the U.S. and its territories. Additionally, outreach efforts focused on reaching people who may have had limited access to the online platform and who were at increased risk of being underrepresented in this study. This included, but was not limited to, people of color, seniors, people residing in rural areas, and low-income individuals. The recruitment strategy was a multi-pronged approach to reach transgender people through various connections and "points-of-access," including transgender- or LGBTQ-specific organizations, support groups, health centers, and online communities. An initial phase of outreach involved developing lists of active transgender, LGBTQ, and allied organizations who served transgender people. These organizations would eventually be asked to support the survey by spreading the word through multiple communication platforms and in some cases providing direct access to the survey at their offices or facilities. Establishing this network of "supporting organizations" was an essential component of reaching a wide, diverse sample of transgender people. Over 800 organizations were contacted by email, phone, and social media, and they were asked if they would support the survey by sharing information about it with their members and contacts. Communications for the survey required a multifaceted approach and a coordinated effort with the recruitment strategy to most effectively reach a wide range of transgender people and ensure a robust sample size. The goals of survey communications were to: Inform people that NCTE would be conducting a survey to further the understanding of the experiences of transgender people in the U.S initially gleaned through the National Transgender Discrimination Survey; Communicate when the survey would be available to complete and how it could be accessed, and; Find creative ways of reaching diverse populations of potential respondents. This involved raising awareness of the survey through several communication methods, including email, social media, and print media, as well as through additional unique campaigns. Many survey promotional materials were produced in English and Spanish to increase the accessibility of the survey.; In an effort to increase accessibility of the survey, the outreach team worked with organizations across the country to organize events or venues where people could complete the survey. Survey-Taking Events, or "survey events," were spaces in which organizations offered their resources to provide access to the survey, such as computers or other web-enabled devices. Please see the Data Collection Methods section of the Methodology Report for detailed information on recruiting activities and survey-taking events. Additionally, the Weights section of the Methodology Report features an explanation of individual weight variables created by the research team to adjust the USTS sample to better represent actual population characteristics of transgender people within the U.S.
Collection Mode
  • web-based survey
One or more files in this study are not available for download due to special restrictions; consult the study documentation to learn more on how to obtain the data.
Alternative Identifiers
  • 37229 (Type: ICPSR Study Number)

Update Metadata: 2019-05-22 | Issue Number: 2 | Registration Date: 2019-05-22

James, Sandy E.; Herman, Jody; Keisling, Mara; Mottet, Lisa; Anafi, Ma'ayan (2019): 2015 U.S. Transgender Survey (USTS). Version 1. Version: v1. ICPSR - Interuniversity Consortium for Political and Social Research. Dataset.