The spectrum goes mainstream

Close to half of Americans think a spectrum of gender identities exists, according to a 2019 survey of more than 1,000 adults conducted by Ipsos, a market research firm. But there are some key differences among various groups, and the wording of survey questions also affects responses.

For instance, nearly half of female respondents agreed with the statement, “There is a spectrum of gender identities,” while only 40% of male respondents did. Similarly, a majority of men (55%) agreed that “gender is defined by the reproductive organs you are born with,” while only 46% of women shared that sentiment (Yuan, 2020).

Not surprisingly, the results revealed greater acceptance of gender as a spectrum among young people and those who identify as LGBTQ. For instance, 27% of all respondents disagreed with the statement, “A person is either a man or a woman and not anything in between,” while 65% of LGBTQ+ respondents disagreed with that statement (Yuan, 2020).

Overall, the results reflect a growing awareness of non-traditional gender identities in the U.S. population, along with differing beliefs and understanding of gender and its related terminology (e.g. nonbinary, gender fluidity).


Ipsos, the market research firm behind the 2019 study, discussed the implications of its findings for the marketplace. Explore ideas about what’s next for American culture.


Yuan, O. (2020, January 6). Gender means more than you think it does. Ipsos.

Gender Identity Gender identity icon Our core sense of who we are as a man, a woman, a mixture of both, or neither.

Gender Expression Gender expression icon How we show up in the world through choices like clothing, hair style, mannerisms or tone of voice.

Attraction attraction icon How we feel toward others sexually, romantically and/or emotionally.

Biological Sex Biological sex icon Physical attributes such as reproductive organs and genitalia, chromosomes, genes and hormone levels.

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