Maybe We Should Be Asking This Question On The Census

Instead of trying to restrain census participation by asking if those taking the census are American citizens, maybe we should be helping to collect data on gender identity in America?

Just in the last few years, nonbinary identity has been slowly seeping into societal consciousness.

It’s impossible to say … how many nonbinary people, there are across the United States. Surveys have yet to deal with this reliably. And any researcher who takes on the question will run into a problem with terminology. An abundance of labels, with subtle distinctions, are in play. Neutrois and gender nonconforming and demiboy and demigirl and pangender and genderqueer are among the array of closely related identities that could confound any demographer. Another complication is that many nonbinary people also call themselves transgender or trans … as an umbrella term, encompassing all kinds of self-definition, all sorts of physical transformation and transgression of the norms of F and M.

“Data are scarce, and the research gaps are vast,” Jody Herman, a public-policy scholar at the U.C.L.A. School of Law’s Williams Institute, a think tank devoted to issues of gender and sexual orientation, … cautioning against any estimate of the country’s nonbinary population. That said, she pointed to an analysis of two federal public-health surveys, conducted by phone in 2014 and 2015, on which 19 states included a brief optional section about gender identity. The results suggest — tenuously — that the total of all transgender-identified adults in the United States is in the neighborhood of 1.4 million.

from The Struggles of Rejecting the Gender Binary

So if the US Census is meant to go beyond just counting heads and determining who Americans truly are…it maybe time to ask us…who are you?


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