Alex Blaze

The LGBT Population Is Not 9 Million

Filed By Alex Blaze | April 07, 2011 7:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Living, Media
Tags: bisexual, lgb, LGBT, population, transgender, Williams Institute

I would be really nice to know how many LGBT people there are in the US. I often scoff at studies that say "X% of LGBT people do/believe Y" because, since we don't even know the size of the queer population, how can we say what percent of us does or believes something?

DSCN2077.JPGAnd finding the size of the LGB population is immensely difficult for a variety of reasons. No, I take that back: it's impossible for a variety of reasons. So imagine my surprise when the Williams Institute announced that nine million Americans are LGBT, around 3.5% of the population. How could they know?

According to his brief, the author, Gary Gates, says he realizes it's hard to know how many people are queer. He spends over a page of the brief describing just how difficult it is to know how many LGBT people there are in the US. Then... he lays out how many there are, not saying how he overcame any of the many problems he cited, as well as the many problems he didn't cite.

In fact, I'd say that the author of this brief showed a pretty flagrant disregard for the rules of basic logic, much less demographics. Instead of producing something with facts that could be published in a peer-reviewed journal, he produced a research-lite brief to be distributed via press release to draw media attention to the number, using methodology that would make the average high school statistics teacher send the paper back for a rework.

Can LGBT activism be advanced when its based on a shared suspension of disbelief? Are we allowed to make fun of the fundies' manipulation of numbers when we do the same, only less effectively? Does poor reasoning help advance our cause? More on that after the jump.

Here's one of the problems with finding out how big the LGB population is, as Gates describes it:

In measuring sexual orientation, lesbian, gay, and bisexual individuals may be identified strictly based on their self-identity or it may be possible to consider same-sex sexual behavior or sexual attraction.

That's not a trifle. The US is a huge country with many religions, many regions, many races, and many, many subcultures, all with varying understandings of how sexual orientation works. Asking them "Are you gay, bisexual, or straight?" will give you a percentage for each, but people who may answer the same way are thinking different things.

That's not a difficulty. That right there makes these sorts of studies impossible. If 5% of the adult male population, for example, prefers sexual activity with other men but still identifies as straight because they have wives or girlfriends (who knows how much or how little gay sex they're having), well, that's enough to render results of surveys useless.

A long time ago being gay meant having gay sex and partaking in the homosexual lifestyle. Many people still believe that today.

For some other people, being gay means how someone identifies... I even knew a straight girl at college who identified as lesbian "in solidarity" with LGBT people. There was a time when that was the dominant position in the movement, about 15 to 20 years ago, that sexual identity was 100% yours to choose and it didn't have to have anything to do with reality.

And lots of people today, as I've posted about before, see sexual orientation as a profound desire that someone can't control and that's independent of how someone identifies.

I'm not judging any of these definitions, but acknowledging that when there are tens of millions of people who believe in each one, it makes studying this subject more than difficult. A study that just asks people will produce numbers in the end. The numbers will be useless, but they'll be numbers.

That's something if you're not concerned with accuracy.

Here's another problem cited in the brief:

Feelings of confidentiality and anonymity increase the likelihood that respondents will be more accurate in reporting sensitive information.

Definitely true. Some people just won't answer a survey honestly about their sexuality, even if they really do identify a certain way. That makes finding out how many people are queer hard.

So we can't even get to the debate about what sexual orientation means. For the purpose of these studies, sexual orientation isn't someone's identity, desires, or behavior; sexual orientation is what someone is willing to tell a pollster.

Those are just two of the problems with these sorts of surveys that Gates lays out. Those are big hurdles! How will Gates jump over them?

However, combining information from the population-based surveys considered in this brief offers a mechanism to produce credible estimates for the size of the LGBT community. Specifically, estimates for sexual orientation identity will be derived by averaging results from the five US surveys identified in Figure 1.

Read that a few times and perhaps you'll see the glaring problem in Gates's reasoning. As an editor, I would just like to remove the word "credible"; his methodology can definitely produce "estimates," but that's about it.

He cites five surveys on sexuality and health in the US that asked people their sexual orientation. The percent who identified as gay, lesbian, and bisexual (combined) was, from top to bottom, 5.6%, 3.7%, 3.2%, 2.9%, and 1.7%. When it came to just bisexual people, the answers ranged from 0.7% to 3.1%. For just gays and lesbians, it ranged from 1.0% to 2.5%.

There was a range of 3.9% among estimates of the LGB population. The range was bigger than his final result! (I remember something about a p-value from college....) The biggest estimate was over three times bigger than the smallest. Among bisexuals, the biggest estimate was almost four and a half times bigger than the smallest. Those differences translate into millions of people answering differently depending on how a study is conducted.

In the scientific world, one wouldn't even evaluate if those numbers are accurate because they aren't even precise. If you keep on repeating the same experiment and getting wildly different results each time, you don't average your data and publish. Instead, you find out what keeps changing. After you start getting results that repeat themselves, then you go on to defend your results as accurate.

Gates doesn't even get far enough to even try to defend his numbers as accurate because he's not even in the right ballpark yet. The question isn't if the data are accurate because we already know it's impossible that they are all accurate.

Why did one study say 3.1% of the population was bisexual and another say that 0.7% of the population was bisexual? We don't find out, Gates doesn't see fit to explain why the data he uses vary so much - doing so would induce too much laughter to get this study published in major newspapers, even by math-challenged media stars.

I notice from his references that one is a study of California. Does anyone think that the queer population of California is the same as, say, North Dakota? Another one studied only adults below the age of 44. Does anyone think that there hasn't been any change in attitudes towards homosexuality and bisexuality in the last century? Or that a gay 18-year-old is just as likely to be out as a gay 45-year-old? At least two of the links for the studies in the references go to the same place - a sloppy mistake, I know, but it makes it hard to evaluate what sort of questioning was used for one of the studies with the word "interview" in the title. Were these face-to-face interviews while some of the other studies were on paper?

That's just what I can notice from his brief. Who knows how big the methodology differences were, differences that Gates acknowledged just several pages before can have a large impact on the results. Those differences can't just be averaged together to cancel each other out.

Now, a real study of the data would evaluate which of the five surveys has the best methodology, which represents the American population (and it could be is probably none of them). But this isn't a real study; it's working the media. So Gates averages the data. If you take good data and mix them with bad data, Gates asserts, you can produce "credible" estimates!

As for the trans estimate, that 700,000 Americans are transgender, I don't even need to get into a discussion here on Bilerico about the vastness of the term "transgender." Gates cites several studies that range from 0.1% to 2% depending on whether people were asked if they had "strong feelings" of being transgender or if they had "take[n] steps" towards transition. Some of these studies are state-level, others aren't specified in the brief.

And Gates comes to the conclusion that 0.2% is a good number to use. He doesn't explain why.

But the media just gobble it up. Usually I blame the media when statistics are poorly reported on - often academics will explain all the caveats behind their data and its limitations, only to be ignored by deadline-crunched journalists and math-challenged media stars. This brief, though, is a think tank brief, so it's designed to produce headlines.

A few years back, before I was doing the copy-editing work that led me into blogging, I had a job for a small publisher that included doing research for opposing viewpoints-type materials for high school students. I was given a topic and I'd find studies to prove either side.

Some of the topics were more balanced than others. The worst was the one on the need for increased government health care - every academic study and professor and anyone with any credibility was on the increased care side of that topic.

So what I'd do when I needed someone to say something wrong is I'd hunt down think tanks. There was always a rightwing think tank willing to take the wrong side of the debate. Even if there was no real evidence to support a conservative proposition, they'd find a way to manipulate data and philosophy into their little box. (Did you hear about those waiting lines in Europe? Or that infant mortality is actually lower in the US because other countries don't know how to count babies?)

I'd get my $11 a page, the publisher would get whatever he charged schools, and the think tank would propagate their views. The only people that suffered were the high school students who were presented academic work and think tank work as equally valid. Oh, and anyone concerned with the country being run on fact-based policy.

This brief is standard-issue think tank work. While the number is smaller than some of us would like, just having a number to cite is important in a lot of arguments. And they've provided it and we'll cite it and the right will say that it's smaller (they prefer 2%, for some reason) and everyone will be all the dumber for it.

One last thing: I agree with Cathy Renna that this shouldn't even matter in politics. But it does.

img Alex Blaze, from Paris Pride 2010


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Great work, Alex. I've long been dubious about the Williams Institute's "findings" and "research," and its various "studies; I remember being equally sceptical about the Canadian study about lesbian teen pregnancy, published a few years ago, which operated on similar principles:
http://www.yasminnair.net/content/lesbian-teen-pregnancy-rates-27-december-2008

I hope this begins a more sceptical mode of questioning how and why we promulgate certain kinds of data analysis as the definitive word on social changes/happenings.

Alex here is something to compare his estimate of the American population to. http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/just-15-per-cent-of-britons-are-gay-says-pioneering-survey-2088191.html

Most estimates I've heard put the total LGB population in America at 3%. Like the LGB population there are no real statistics on crossdressers but from what I've read the most common number is 5%. Transsexuals are just under 1%.Hopefully the crossdressers aren't smart enough to realize they outnumber all of us and decide to put us all under their CD umbrella.

I wanna know how many str8s there are in the U.S. I know it's difficult to get the exact number but we can start by interviewing all the str8 men who frequent men's public restrooms to find women in there with whom they can have opposite-sex quickies. There has to be millions upon millions of these str8s looking for opposite-sex quickies in men's rooms on any one day.

I'd also like research to be conducted on how many homophobes there are in the U.S. Once we get that number pinned down, we'll have a much better idea of how many Gays there are because homophobes are actually self-loathing, closet cases.

I understand that this study has flaws and limitations, just like any other study; the article correctly points out these limitations, but it also sounds like an indictment of think tanks or research institutions in general. I mean, studies need to be better, and we do need numbers, not just in politics, but in the provision of services, among others. Shouldn't the goal be making sure everyone understands what the numbers mean?

Bill Perdue Bill Perdue | April 7, 2011 10:14 PM

We're not ever going to get an accurate count in a society dominated by christite, judaist and islamist bigots, a country where the president knows he won't lose much, and will gain a lot, by claiming that 'gawd's in the mix.'

Too many people are too afraid of being harassed, discriminated against and suffering violence, and with good reason.

That's why one of our goals has to be the elimination of the power of the cults by taxing them, closing their schools and hospitals (to prevent rape), criminalizing their interference in civil matters, taxing them some more and passing laws to provide draconian penalties when priests, ministers, rabbis, pastors, imams and other cult parasites commit crimes.

His method of evaluating the transgender population is a joke. Actually, from what I read in the study, there is no real method other than comparing it against other prior studies and trying to extrapolate it from there. No one even totally agrees with who the transgender community much less how many of us are closeted or not comfortable with publicly identifying ourselves as transgender.

What's so disturbing about such ventures is they're wrapped in a package of statistics, making them sound somehow less fraudulent. And they will no doubt be reprinted, quoted and linked to as though those numbers actually mean something. In the case of the trans community, he's minimized us to the point where we're 'comfortably insignificant.'

I thought the transgender part of the brief was a lot funnier than the LGB part. He didn't even try to average or explain how he came to 0.2%... that's just it! It's not like journalists are going to ask.

On several occasions when I've tried to discuss with a less-familiarized group about transgenderism, I have invariably gotten the question, "How many people are trangender?" -- and since I can't give a good answer to this question, I've thought about it quite a bit.

The most objective and clear statistic I might wish to start with might be how many actual sex reassignment surgeries are performed on US citizens each year, and how many such surgeries are performed within the US on citizens of any country. The sad fact is, it is even difficult to get a good number on how many surgical transitions are performed! So many of these surgeries on American citizens take place outside of the US that there is no one place (that I've been able to find) that has stats accurate enough to be useful and/or meaningful.

Stonewall Girl Stonewall Girl | April 8, 2011 1:22 AM

The Williams Institute study obviously poses more questions than it attempts to answer. There may actually be some political harm in the fact that there is an obvious underestimate of LGB and T people. Heck, I've seen statistics of people with intersex characteristics being 2%.

As a person who was in denial for so many years, hey would I have been counted? You think there are a lot of LGBT people in denial?

Did it count people with same-sex attractions or gender identity variance or just those who identified culturally as being part of the LGB and T communities?

If they did not include John Travolta, Tom Cruise, Matt Damon, Eddie Murphy, Will Smith (when swinging),Zac Effron, Ryan Seachrest and Leonardo DiCapprio, I count nine million and eight. (Oh, wait, can I please add Tom Selleck? Nine miillion and nine, thank you.)

You've personally had gay sex with all these men? Wow, you do get around!

This is a very complicated issue as has been suggested, and the outcome of any study depends on how the questions are phrased. for example, there are many young people who do not identify themselves as "gay" or "lesbian," but they have sex with or fantasies about others of the same sex. In response to the Chicago student of college students a number of years ago that asked the question of students if they were gay and got a small percentage (about 3.5, as I recall), I did a study and asked a different question: the last time you had sex was it with someone of the same gender or opposite. That resulted in about 9% of college-age men saying it was with the same gender and about 4% of college-age women answering that way.

In addition, in recent years there was a study that showed that only 24% of men who have sexual fantasies about other men actually allow their homoerotic fantasies to be realized in other aspects of their lives, e.g., dating other men, having sex with other men, etc.

So, I would say that the estimates of 3-4% of people being gay is a very low estimate IF one wants to include all who are homoerotic. It's probably closer to the number of people who allow their same sex attraction to penetrate (pardon the word) all biopsychosocial domains of their lives. I hope this makes sense.

Rick Sutton | April 8, 2011 7:31 AM

Three percent, 12 percent--it really makes no difference, when 100% of us are getting screwed in at least 40-plus states right now, due to ridiculous laws.

But your posts always draw out interesting responses, Alex. I had no idea about Will Smith. Hubba hubba.

Ethan Alister | April 8, 2011 8:31 AM

One of the problems with trying to enumerate the transgender community is that people within the T community can't even agree on what it means. I got into an argument with a friend who was spitting mad about my lumping transgendered people and transsexual people together. No, I still don't know what her reasoning was. I think it had something to do with surgery. Whatever.

Beyond that, we've got crossdressers, as someone mentioned, who could be placed in the G, L, B, T, straight, or a category by themselves. I'm willing to bet this "study" doesn't even mention the intersexed. Two-spirited? Gates probably doesn't even know what it means. It doesn't end there but I'm going to.

Point being that here we have another dude, from another Institute slapping arbitrary definitions on people regardless of accuracy. It bugs me. It also says nothing about real people in the real world.

Just as with Stonewall Girl, I was in deep denial for so many years. So where do I fall in the spectrum. As of a few years ago, when I finally capitulated to myself, I consider myself gay, identify as gay, have sexual activity only with men (one man, actually; so not promiscuous as the straight population would claim), and, finally, if asked on a survey, I openly state that I am gay. But what about all those years when I was miscounted because I only had "feelings of being gay" and refused to accept it?

Great take down, Alex. I've shared this widely.

Even acknowledging all the difficulties and impossibilities, there remains the question, "What is a good, responsible journalist to do?" Readers are hungry for such a number, real or fantasy, and re-printing Alex's discussion herein, showing why such a number doesn't and can't exist, is not always what your assignment editor had in mind.

Several years ago I read that, under DADT, the US military estimated that about 5.5% of servicemembers might be categorized as gay or lesbian. About the same time, I read that the British Labor Ministry estimated that up to 6% of the British workforce is gay or lesbian. These are about the most objective and authoritative estimates I've encountered. (And I was surprised that the US Military was willing to put the percentage that high -- Kudos to them for valuing accuracy -- or, at least, the best approximation possible -- over prejudicial or conservative-wishful thinking.) So I have committed these stats to memory, and these are the stats I use, carefully citing the sources, when I need to broach this estimation. (Of course, your mileage may vary.)

Whatever the usefulness of the study in academic terms, this study accomplished two things:

1). Discussion of the size of the LGBT community has made mainstream press, so that any updates to the size will be news. The visibly increasing size of the LGBT community will subtly encourage more acceptance;

2). Williams has put their name farther in the mainstream. This will mean more mainstream pieces seeking out the assistance of Williams when providing expert analysis as opposed to a less-informed firebrand.

This is also a very good PR move for Williams. I would watch for another announcement coming from Williams over the next two weeks, which will now get more press than it would have before the release of this study.

So, we're supposed to be glad that the Williams Institute gets its name out there as the go-to place for "expert analysis" even if we can demonstrably prove that their analysis is, in fact, faulty? Why is that better than going to a "less-informed firebrand"? And who might that be?

I agree with Yasmin -- Williams doesn't do itself, or us, any favors if it establishes itself as the best source for garbage-in-garbage-out.

Cathy Renna Cathy Renna | April 9, 2011 7:09 AM

thank you for the comment and context Jarrod - and guess what? you are right, there will be a series of more studies about a variety of issues that I hope (and will work hard for) more mainstream coverage. For the record, Williams already has the respect of the media in a huge way - recent articles in the NY TImes (which the gay media actually mostly ignored about how so many of us are raising children and i fact larger percentages are parents of color and live in the South, somehow made it on the front page of the NY Times. Imagine that.

I'm really saddened by the response to this poorly reasoned attack on perfectly good work by Gates. I'm not sure why someone whose only expertise in demography is working for a text book company trumps a widely respected PhD in economics. But, hey, I guess if Blaze says these numbers are "impossible," we have to believe Blaze and not, ya know, the actual expert. Blaze hasn't shown that Gates's methodology is faulty or that Gates's methods aren't standard practice. Gates did a meta-analysis the way everyone does meta-analyses. All demographic research is done by estimates and extrapolation and using available information. If you don't like that, I guess that's your prerogative. But scurrilous, uniformed attacks on Gary Gates and the Williams Institute -- a perfectly good, UCLA-based think tank that exists to further LGBT rights -- seem to me to be a wildly weird waste of energy.

"Blaze hasn't shown that Gates's methodology is faulty or that Gates's methods aren't standard practice."

Actually, he has. In some detail, in the post above. Have you read the pdf that Alex linked to? There's nothing meta about it - it's a pretty explicit set of claims about numbers. Gates gave numbers, and Alex explained why those numbers are problematic. I guess I'd want to see you dismantle Alex's arguments more effectively than by simply saying that Gates has a PhD (I have one, and even I don't think that it automatically makes anyone a good or infallible researcher). Can you explicitly refute Alex's points instead?

Cathy Renna Cathy Renna | April 9, 2011 7:04 AM

I am going to refrain from commenting on Dr. Gates credentials - they speak for themselves as since he is my client anyone who disagrees with me will just say I am saying what I need to. Better his words speak for themselves. Two recent posts, on on the GLAAD Blog about coverage and one Dr. Gate's piece in today's Washington Post speak for themselves on soe of the issues address. As for using phrases like "take down" are unnecessary and frankly, wrong and mean spirited (my opinion).

http://glaadblog.org/2011/04/08/ap-quotes-anti-gay-activist-in-lgbt-population-story/

http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/gay-people-count-so-why-not-count-them-correctly/2011/04/07/AFDg9K4C_story.html

Note the Kinsey history - talk about non-inclusive, at least we are trying to do more and better that just gay men. That our movement clings to that number says a a lot.

My personal opinion is already in my post and I also responded publicly to the community outcry over numbers

http://blogs.laweekly.com/informer/2011/04/how_many_gays_in_america_ucla_study_9_million.php

It's interesting to me that the comments/emails I've received defending this brief can all say the same thing: Gary Gates is awesome and criticizing him is bad (here: "mean spirited"). None of them say something a lot more important: why this blog post is wrong and why Gates' brief is correct.

Gates has great credentials, but so do lots of people who we criticize here on Bilerico and no one ever stands up to defend them. Barack Obama is a constitutional law professor but people have accused him of breaking the law (on human rights, gay rights, women's rights, the war in Libya, etc). There are military generals who oppose DADT repeal, and people who have never been in the military accuse those generals of hurting military readiness. Pat Robertson has a masters in divinity but many of us would disagree with his theological opinions. Just because someone has an advanced degree or a particular job doesn't make them infallible.

As for why journalists like the Williams Institute so much, a good deal of that is laziness and incompetence. Journalists are famously bad at math (the Washington Post, for example, even ran a column a few months ago where the columnist went around and asked journalists how they felt about math and most said they avoid it because they don't get it) and there are lots of pressures to get content out quickly that work against posing too many questions. Plus a headline like "There are 9 million LGBT people in the US" is really attractive while a headline like "Demographic studies involving LGBT people are difficult" induces yawns, even though it's far more accurate.

That all said, I would encourage people to visit the Washington Post link Cathy put up. Gary Gates sounds about 30 times more reasonable there than he did in this brief. This post isn't a criticism of Gary Gates, but of the think tank system which is designed for propaganda (both good and bad), not truth.

"This post isn't a criticism of Gary Gates, but of the think tank system which is designed for propaganda (both good and bad), not truth."

This is disingenuous. Three quarters of this post is an explicit attack on Gates's work, and you basically say that he has no idea what he's talking about. You conclude with a very vague attack on think tanks in general.

Shorter Alex: This isn't a criticism of Gary Gates personally.
Shorter Ted: Yes, it is you criticized his study.

I think that's disingenuous, personally. Just because someone has done a study that Alex is critical of, doesn't mean that Alex is making personal attacks or thinks Gates is a horrible human being.

There's a separation between the work and the individual. Quite a few of the folks upset by Alex's critique seem to be more of the "But Gary's a great guy!" mentality. George Bush was a great guy to have over to watch the game, but that doesn't mean that his job performance as President was spectacular or horrible consistently. Everyone has good days and bad days - good work and bad. Alex seems to think that his work of Gates' wasn't up to the mark.

So why is it suddenly taboo to criticize a study just because the author is so-and-so?

Even in the off chance it were only 9 Million, the Mormons are only 5.5 Million (and they do their counting like a profile site that even if you leave, they still count you). Yet Mormons have more rights than we do and even took one of ours away.

Good post, Alex! If I had a dollar for every straight, married mans dick I had sucked, I would have many dollars! Where would they fall into this, I wonder.

This is my favorite comment of the week.

Of course I've read the post and I've read Gates's study (as well as numerous other studies by Gates). That's why I responded to it as I did. I'm sorry you don't understand what a meta-analysis is, and that perhaps is why you don't think that Blaze's long-winded, but uninformed attack on Gates's study is itself faulty. I found a nicely simple definition of meta-analysis on About.com: "A statistical technique which combines the results of several studies that ask the same or similar research questions." (If you'd like a more detailed explanation, I'm sure you can use your own research skills to find a good stats text book.)

In other words, this is what Gates did. He looked at several studies, took their numbers and devised a way to average them out to come up with an educated, credible estimate. And in his study, he explained in detail why studies on LGBT population are problematic, why any estimation is problematic, and why the numbers he's come up with are credible *based on what researchers have learned so far.* And then he ends with an explicit call for better research.

Most of Blaze's attack on the entire idea of doing research on the LGBT population: it's hard, it's confusing, and people don't answer the way we'd like them to. All of this is in Gates's paper, too, but Gates, unlike Blaze, understands that just because doing the research is hard and inexact does not mean that the results of the research are bunk.

Blaze's only specific attack on Gates's methods is a criticism of how Gates averaged the stats of the other studies. Blaze thinks that if the "The range was bigger than his final result" then the result is bad, and then he links to the Wikipedia article on the P-value, as if it supports this point. It doesn't. (For a much clearer description of the p-value, there's this: http://bit.ly/iijZuD.) While there are probably some interesting, but hardly damning, p-value issues in both the original studies and in Gates's analysis of them, the range of numbers here doesn't have anything to do with the validity of the result. Gates was working with 5.6%, 3.7%, 3.2%, 2.9%, and 1.7%, and the average he came up with was 3.5%, with the range between highest and lowest numbers being 3.9. Let's say you were looking for another condition with similarly difficult diagnosis problems, say genius-level intelligence or schizophrenia, and you came up with numbers that were actually 10 higher than Gates's number. You'd get 15.6, 13.7, 13.2, 12.9, and 11.7; the range would still be 3.9, and the average would be 13.5. So here the result is more than four times the range. Does that make it more or less valid? Neither.

I agree: PhDs (or any degree) do not offer unimpeachable credentials. However, when you go after a PhD in his exact are of expertise, you need more than a vague understanding of that expertise to back up your attack.

I did make an error above. Gates has a PhD in Public Policy and Management. I saw him speak at the American Psychological Association convention last summer, and I remembered him saying that he was an economist. I regret the error.

First, this is not an attack on Gates, and using the word "attack" is not going to make it one. I think Alex has amply addressed that point, but it's worth repeating.

Second, no, his specific critique of Gates is not around the issue of averaging. His issue is that the "studies" that Gates draws upon are credible sources to draw averages from. Your only response to that is to insist that the average is correct - that's not what Alex is getting at, at all.

I'm the last one to knock down any reevaluation of population summaries - and I'm hardly a booster of the "gay" community. But so far, this is what I get from the Williams Institute: there are fundamental flaws in analysing the LGBTQ population, but based on all these flawed studies, we're going to average out a lot of flawed statistics and give you a definitive number.

Like Alex, I'm struck by the comments here which don't get at why he (Alex) is wrong, but reiterate that Gates is right just because.

And, oh, sigh, what I meant to write was, "His issue is that the "studies" that Gates draws upon are *not* credible sources to draw averages from."

I should have had my afternoon cup of tea before writing that.

in case you've never seen it, Lynn Conway's write-ups on attempts to find "prevalence" of transsexuality may be of interest.

http://ai.eecs.umich.edu/people/conway/TS/TSprevalence.html