The Census, the LGBT Community, and Me

Steven Harper PiziksThe Census Bureau is only planning to ask about sexual orientation on their pre-survey which asks people what barriers exist that prevent them from taking part in the census (CBAMS).

This is a major problem.

Originally for the upcoming census, the department was going to include sexual orientation as part of the survey. This would have provided an enormous amount of data about the makeup of families and about the number of LGBT people in the United States, since the census is the most comprehensive survey of US citizens in existence. No other survey counts every single resident. It would address a number of questions: how many LGBT people we have in the country, exactly where they live, what their family structures are, racial and other demographic makeup of the LGBT community, financial status of LGBT people, and so on. But the Trump administration decided to pull that out.

They won’t even be asking if a marriage is opposite-sex or same-sex. Putting this category down makes it feasible for researchers to gather information on the number of same-sex marriages. Without this category, the only way to find out is to look at each marriage individually–millions of them–and figure out by the gender data whether it’s same-sex or opposite sex, an impossible task.  And no one would be able to do that anyway until the Census Bureau releases individual household data–IN 72 YEARS.

Darwin and I will be listed as “married” and as living with a minor child, but we won’t be noted as an LGBT household–the only way to tell will be if a researcher looks at our particular household, looks up Darwin to see if he’s a man and looks me up to see if I’m a man, and even then the researcher will have to assume, which researchers don’t like doing–so our relationship as two gay men won’t be counted. (If I were a transgender man, there would be no way to list that on the form–I would be listed as “female” if I’d undergone full transition and “male” if I hadn’t, which doesn’t give full or correct data.)

The same goes for all other same-sex or transgender-involved marriages in the country. Same-sex marriages won’t be counted. They’ll be lumped in with all marriages, and there won’t be another chance to count this for ten more years.

This is a way to continue the erasure of LGBT people.  If you don’t count them, they don’t exist, and you can continue to ignore their rights.

–Steven Harper Piziks

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Danny Large



The Census, the LGBT Community, and Me — 3 Comments

  1. Small correction: if you were a transgender man, you’d be listed as female before, and male after transition, not vice versa.

    (usage of trans, trans* and transgender varies; but ‘a trans man is a man’ is universal’)

    On the other hand, maybe it’s not such a bad thing for the current administration to NOT know where all QUILTBAG people live…

  2. [ ” On the other hand, maybe it’s not such a bad thing for the current administration to NOT know where all QUILTBAG people live… ” ]

    Sadly, that was my first thought also.

  3. The big problem with Census is that you have to sink resources into it early. Get the computer programs created and tested, plan the questions and the documents, get the hiring of people into gear. This costs money, and they’ve cut that money drastically. This is not a fact-based administration. They would rather be ignorant.