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NCTE Applauds New Recommendations on LGBTQI Data Collection; Calls on President Biden to Reform Feds Data Collection


The National Center for Transgender Equality hails the release of a new report from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine, which includes formal recommendations and best practices for collecting data on sex, sexual orientation, gender identity and variations in sex characteristics and calls for them to be implemented by the federal government.

“We know that for serious policy makers, data can drive decisions,” said Rodrigo Heng-Lehtinen, executive director of NCTE. “But too often LGBTQI people, especially transgender and nonbinary people, aren’t visible in data, and we get left out of electoral power, policy and federal programing investments. Very few surveys and forms include questions that allow LGBTQI people to identify as such. While some of the questions regarding gender identity aren’t perfect, these recommendations and best practices, when implemented, will help to ensure that not only are we seen, but also that we have access to vital safety net programs and basic human rights. This report shows that this data collection is vital, that these questions can be asked, and people will answer them. As is the case with any type of demographic data collection, continuing research is needed to ensure that the questions keep pace with evolution in our understandings of sex, gender identity and sexual orientation.”

As an example, the 2020 Census did not include a sexual orientation question and only allowed respondents to identify as “male” or “female.” Including questions about sex, sexual orientation, and gender identity, and variations in sex characteristics on surveys and forms helps make sure that the experiences and needs of LGBTQI people are studied, considered and responded to with good policy and meaningful funding.

NCTE has also signed on to an open letter endorsing the report and best practices, which has been sent to health, education, corporate, government and other policy leaders. The letter is available here.

Data collected by private research firms suggest that there are more than 13 million LGBTQ people in the United States, with higher percentages of younger adults and adolescents identifying as LGBTQ. Scientific estimates suggest there are between two million and five million Americans who were born with intersex traits.

“The report emphasizes the need for continued research into the best ways to include measures of variations in sex characteristics and intersex characteristics and to best measure the sexual and gender diversity among the US population,” Heng-Lehtinen said. “We’re calling upon the Biden administration to implement these recommendations and for the president to implement an executive order that commits the US government to adding questions about sexual orientation, gender identity and variations in sex characteristics to federal surveys.”


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