What's My Sex? What's My Gender? – And Other US Census Related LGBT Thoughts
I was reading today in a private Google Group about how the US Census next year will count same-sex couples, but what it the US Census won’t recognize are same-sex marriages, no will the or US Census count the children of same gender couples as being the children of a same gender couples’ family units.
Which of course, got me thinking: When I fill out my US Census form next year, will the census ask me what my sex is, or will they ask me what my gender is?
I have male genitalia, but I’m not a man; I have female gender identity and breasts that are sizable enough without enhancement to need annual mammograms, but even though my California Driver License says “F, “my Medicare Card says “MALE,” and my VA healthcare record indicates I’m “MALE.”
In other words, I’m clear as to my gender, and I’m aware that when I go into sex segregated places, if nudity is involved I need to contemplate if my genitalia will be visible to other women as to whether I enter a space. I don’t think twice about which restroom to use, but I do think twice about locker rooms.
But nudity isn’t involved in filling out forms, and most forms don’t allow me to identify as “transgender” or “other” when I fill these forms out — and frankly, I’m not sure I’d actually want to select “transgender” or “other” if these were options because I see myself as female.
And, this will be true for pre-operative and non-operative transsexuals, as well as post-operative transsexuals who are born in states where transsexuals aren’t allowed to change the gender marker on their drivers licenses, or modify their birth certificates to reflect their changed, physical sex: we’ll have to decide, each for ourselves, which sex/gender box to select.
So, the US Census not only won’t count marriages between same sex partners — won’t count the children of same sex couples as belonging to a family unit — the census also won’t gather any information about transgender or transsexual data because the form doesn’t collect that kind of data.
Sen. Barack Obama co-sponsored the Matthew Shepard Act (federal anti-hate crimes law) and the Employment Non-Discrimination Act. When asked if he supports transgender inclusion, Obama said, “Absolutely. The transgendered community has to be protected. I just don’t have any tolerance for that sort of intolerance. And I think we need to legislate aggressively to protect them.”
So will I be technically breaking the law if I identify myself as female on my census form? Will the federal government see my community and me as needing to have our gender identity protected in how we answer the form, or will the federal government be intolerant of my peers are I marking a gender that doesn’t stereotypically align with our genitalia?
I don’t know. I haven’t asked any of my trans or trans ally activist or attorney friends what the answer is to my questions, and I guess I’m thinking about this a little early for marking the form as is — or perhaps a little late for changing the form to reflect a choice for my trans status.
However, since someone else mentioned another issue regarding lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) US Census information today that I read, and since my genitalia won’t likely be changed before next year’s census, I ended up today thinking about which gender marker box I’m going to be checking next year.
And, of course this all matters more than we might think, as everything from amount of state representation one has in congress to federal funding of programs for 10 years after this census will be tied to the US Census results.
Wouldn’t it be nice to have a President who stopped publicly ignoring LGBT issues? Wouldn’t it be nice if DOMA was repealed this year so the data collected for the US Census next year will reflect the realities of LGBT families in the data collected? Wouldn’t it be nice to collect any federal data on transgender people?
Yeah, the way the Obama Administration has become less clear about what it’s going to do about Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, let alone when the administration is going to do whatever it’s going to do about Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, thinking that the administration is going to do anything about DOMA, T issues not tied directly tied to LGB issues, and what data is collected about LGBT people in the 2010 US Census is likely pipe dream thinking on my part.
* Task Force: Stand Up And Be Counted