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A popular post on Tumblr (over 150,000 notes) makes the claim that:

yall realize the average lifespan for a trans woman is 30-32 years.. and that is largely because of hate crimes resulting in murder..

Is this claim true?

  • I have edited the title to match the claim. I'm not sure exactly what "average life expectancy" is anyway, as life expectancy itself is already an average of sorts... – Flimzy Jul 7 '16 at 20:18
  • I suppose life expectancy could be on an individual basis, whereas average life expectancy would be average for all individuals. The edit seems good – Phoenix Jul 7 '16 at 20:20
  • Certainly a meaningful definition of "average life expectancy" could be derived for a given context (across all age groups? Across all societies?) But I don't think such a definition is implicit, whereas "average lifespan" is much more precise without further explanation and, more important, it's what the claim actually mentions. :) – Flimzy Jul 7 '16 at 20:22
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    For which country? The USA or e.g. South Sudan? – Reinstate Monica - M. Schröder Jul 9 '16 at 17:27
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This seems implausible.

It's estimated that about .2 to .3% of the population are trans.

http://www.livescience.com/50635-bruce-jenner-transgender-prevalence.html

The most frequently cited estimate is that 700,000 people in the United States, or about 0.2 to 0.3 percent of the population, are transgender, though some experts say the true number is probably greater than that. However, there aren't reliable statistics on this, because neither the U.S. Census Bureau nor the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention ask people in national surveys whether they identify themselves as being a gender different from the one indicated by their physical features at birth.

Apparently there's more trans women than trans men but we can assume it's >50% of that number.

We could limit it to post-operative transsexual women

there are at least 32,000 to 40,000 post-operative transsexual women in the United States

http://www.gendercentre.org.au/resources/polare-archive/archived-articles/how-many-of-us-are-there.htm

Homicide in the US doesn't appear to make a significant dent.

https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2015/nov/13/transgender-homicide-victims-us-has-hit-historic-high

The Human Rights Campaign report documented 21 transgender homicide victims so far in 2015, almost all of them transgender women of color, and likely an underestimate due to the difficulty of tracking the homicides. Among all 53 transgender murders from 2013 to 2015, not a single one was prosecuted or reported as a hate crime, the report found.

A few dozen murders per year in a community of tens of thousands to hundreds of thousands just isn't enough to knock life expectancy down that much.

In an utterly randomly selected group of 1 million americans we'd expect ~53 murders per year. So the Human Rights Campaign figures for trans murders are almost certainly an underestimate but it seems likely that they're not too many orders of magnitude off.

So the claim "and that is largely because of hate crimes resulting in murder.. " is almost certainly false.

it does appear that trans women have a lower life expectancy for various other reasons including the effects of hormone therapy causing higher risk of heart disease.

https://lexiecannes.com/2013/05/14/research-shows-trans-women-on-hormone-therapy-at-higher-risk-for-cardiovascular-diseases/

Trans individuals are also far more likely to commit suicide or to die from various other health problems.

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    Are you answering just for the US (which the original claim doesn't seem to be restricted to), or are you using the US as a proxy for the world? – Dan Getz Jul 5 '16 at 16:16
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    @DanGetz I was focusing on the US since there's more/better data. Though in other countries it still seems primarily due to other factors. – Murphy Jul 5 '16 at 16:21
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    We could limit it to post-operative transsexual women Why? The operation is optional in most countries nowadays, and in the US for many people it isn't covered by health care, so this would exclude trans women with a low income. – fuxia Jul 6 '16 at 19:54
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    @toscho if I didn't at least mention it then people would almost certainly attack the 700K figure. I try to find the most harsh possible interpretation or least convenient set of numbers for the position I'm taking if I'm looking for approximate figures. in this case since the post-operative numbers are the smallest I included them to make it clear that even if we limit it to a small fraction of the group in question the position still holds reasonably well. – Murphy Jul 7 '16 at 10:27
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    @MarchHo I'm not attempting to argue that the life expectancy is higher, I'm arguing that the "and that is largely because of hate crimes resulting in murder.. " claim is false because it's easier. If someone claimed shark attacks were lowering life expectancy by >50% in some population it should be enough to point out that the low rate of shark attacks doesn't mesh with the numbers. Anyone deleting simple math for being "original research" needs to hand in their moderator badge because they don't know what actual research is. Doing at least minimal math is needed to understand available data – Murphy Jul 7 '16 at 13:12

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