Quebec has the third-largest population of transgender and non-binary people in Canada, according to most recent census, though the proportion of the population this group makes up is the lowest among the provinces.

It's the first time gender and sex data have been tabulated separately in the census, which LGBT2S+ advocates are claiming as a big win.

"For many trans people, it's a sign that the government acknowledges they exist," said LGBT+ Family Coalition executive director Mona Greenbaum.

"It really shows that the government cares about people and might, hopefully, be putting some programs in place or at least adapting programs that already exist."

Of the 30.5 million Canadians over 15 and living in a private household as of May of last year, 100,815 counted themselves as transgender (59,460) or non-binary (41,355).

"In other countries, people tend to put these two things together as if they're just one thing," Greenbaum said.

"But, in fact, they're not one thing for many people, especially for trans and non-binary people, where the sex assigned at birth is not necessarily the gender they're going to have later on in life."

Not surprisingly, for Greenbaum, the highest numbers of trans and non-binary people live in major urban centres and are on the younger side.

At the time of the census, over half (52.7 per cent) of non-binary people lived in one of Canada's six largest cities, with Montreal (11 per cent) ranking second behind Toronto.

The real numbers, however, are almost certainly higher than the census data shows, Greenbaum said.

"It's always going to be an underestimation, because people are nervous about divulging personal information to the government, especially in the trans community," said Greenbaum.

Quebec has the third-highest number of transgender and non-binary people, behind Ontario and B.C., with 16,225.

However, among the provinces, Quebec had the smallest proportion of transgender people (0.14 per cent) and non-binary people (0.09 percent).

In addition, the three large urban centres with the lowest levels of gender diversity were all found in Quebec: Drummondville (0.17 per cent), Saguenay (0.17 per cent) and Trois-Rivières (0.2 per cent).

The fact that Quebec, and the three city centres in question specifically, have an older population helps explain this.

Quebec has the fourth-oldest average age, coming behind only the Maritime provinces, at 43, and the percentage of trans and non-binary people under this age was much higher than above it.

Around one in 150 people aged 15 to 34 were transgender or non-binary, according to the census, versus 1 in 550 who were over 35.

Noval Scotia, at 1.17 per cent, had the highest percentage of non-binary and transgender people between 15 and 34 years old, while Quebec was the lowest at 0.52 per cent.

"It doesn't surprise me at all," said Greenbaum.

"The younger generation finally has the possibility to think about these things even. I know when I was in my 20s and 30s, those notions didn't even exist... [And] these are issues that are more talked about in urban settings, so it shows a certain social acceptance, and it allows younger people to come out."

With positivity around being counted comes concern about what could be done with the data, however.

Greenbaum said that many trans people risk violence in their everyday lives and may fear giving information publicly, as the data itself can be weaponized politically to curb rights.

For example, Alabama Governor Kay Ivey signed two bills in April: one criminalizing health-care providers who offer gender-affirming care to trans youth and another requiring students to use bathrooms matching the sex denoted on their birth certificate.

"There's a lot of bad things going on in the world for trans people; we just have to look to the States," said Greenbaum.

"The States is really regressing. Any data can be used in a positive or a negative way."