Who identifies as queer?

Among LGBTQ+ identities, the term “queer” is perhaps the most complex. Long considered a derogatory term, queer is being reclaimed by some LGBTQ+ people—particularly youth—as a source of pride and political identity. The term is valued by some for its defiance, by some because it can be inclusive of the entire community, and by others who find it to be an appropriate term to describe their more fluid identities. 

Now, a study published in Psychology of Sexual Orientation and Gender Diversity is providing fresh insight into the demographics of queer identity in the U.S.

According to the study, approximately 6% of U.S. adults who fall in the sexual minority identify as queer. Of those identifying as queer, the vast majority were assigned female at birth (83%). But more than a third of queer people (34%) consider themselves genderqueer or non-binary, meaning they don’t subscribe to conventional gender distinctions. Queer individuals are also more likely than other sexual minorities to be attracted to those who don’t subscribe to gender norms.

They’re young and educated, too. Most are between the ages of 18 and 25 (76%), and compared to other sexual minorities, they’re also more likely to have graduated from college. The research found that 39% of queer individuals have graduated from college or obtained a postgraduate degree, compared to 32% of lesbians and gay men and 17% of bisexuals.

Because of the term’s checkered history, there are still many in the LGBTQ+ community who consider “queer” to be a derogatory term. That’s particularly true among older generations. So, it’s important to use it selectively, as when self-identifying or referring to someone who identifies as queer.


The study found queer individuals to be distinct from other sexual minorities in a number of ways. Learn more about the findings.

Exploring the Q in LGBTQ


Goldberg, S.K., Rothblum, E.D., Russell, S.T., & Meyer, I.H. (2020, January 20). Exploring the Q in LGBTQ. Williams Institute, UCLA School of Law. https://williamsinstitute.law.ucla.edu/publications/exploring-q-in-lgbtq/

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.

Subscribe to our monthly newsletter to gather insights and real learnings

* indicates required
Privacy Policy *