New Report Highlights the Need to Increase Population-Based Data about Transgender People and Other Gender Minorities

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williamsinstituteCurrent practices fail to identify transgender and other gender minority respondents

Currently, most federally-supported population-based surveys do not include measures to identify transgender and other gender minority respondents, according to a new report released by the Williams Institute on behalf of the Gender Identity in U.S. Surveillance (GenIUSS) group. The report, entitled Best Practices for Asking Questions to Identify Transgender and Other Gender Minority Respondents on Population-Based Surveys, assesses current practices in sex and gender-related population research and offers strategies for establishing consistent, scientifically rigorous procedures for gathering information relevant to the needs and experiences of transgender people and other gender minorities.

“Research tells us that transgender people and other gender minorities face discrimination that impacts their health and well-being,” said Jody L. Herman, who served as editor for the report and leads Williams Institute transgender research efforts. “Having representative data on the social, economic, and health status of gender minorities is key to guiding efforts by government and nonprofit agencies to address disparities.”  [pullquote]“Research tells us that transgender people and other gender minorities face discrimination that impacts their health and well-being,” said Jody L. Herman, who served as editor for the report and leads Williams Institute transgender research efforts.[/pullquote]

Staff from The Fenway Institute were among those who helped write the report.fenwayinstitute_sm

“The GenIUSS Best Practices report poises federal and state agencies to take a giant step towards achieving Healthy People 2020 objectives. Making our health surveillance systems inclusive of transgender and other gender minority youth and adults will enable the US to monitor population health and to work towards health equity,” said Kerith Conron, ScD, a Research Scientist at The Fenway Institute and a GenIUSS Steering Committee member and report co-author.

The report recommends various promising measures and measurement approaches for identifying respondents as gender minorities in general population surveys. Among the most effective is the “two step” approach, which includes measures of self-reported assigned sex at birth (the sex recorded on one’s original birth certificate) and gender identity at the time of the survey.

“Gender-inclusive measures are not just important for gender minority people—they offer an opportunity for greater understanding of sex and gender differences in the nation’s health more broadly,” said Sari Reisner, ScD, Research Scientist at The Fenway Institute specializing in transgender health and a GenIUSS report co-author. “For example, much scientific research doesn’t offer clarity about or distinguish between sex or gender in describing population health—the terms male and female and men and women are often used interchangeably and without critical consideration. The GenIUSS Best Practices report offers tools to help us better understand sex- and gender-linked pathways to health.” [pullquote]“Gender-inclusive measures are not just important for gender minority people—they offer an opportunity for greater understanding of sex and gender differences in the nation’s health more broadly,” said Sari Reisner, ScD, Research Scientist at The Fenway Institute specializing in transgender health and a GenIUSS report co-author.[/pullquote]

The report also notes that, when collecting data to identify transgender and other gender minority respondents, special considerations must be taken into account based on age, race/ethnicity, socioeconomic status, and intersex status.

The American Community Survey, the Current Population Survey, the Survey of Income and Program Participation, the National Crime Victimization Survey, the National Health Interview Survey, and the National Survey of Veterans are among the federally-supported population-based surveys that currently do not include measures to identify gender minority respondents. These are top-priority surveys for including recommended sex and gender-related measures.

The full report is available here: williamsinstitute.law.ucla.edu/wp-content/uploads/geniuss-report-sep-2014.pdf

The Williams Institute on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Law and Public Policy advances law and public policy through rigorous, independent research and scholarship, and disseminates its work through a variety of education programs and media to judges, legislators, lawyers, other policymakers, and the public.   A national think tank at UCLA Law, the Williams Institute produces high quality research with real-world relevance. More at williamsinstitute.law.ucla.edu.

The Gender Identity in U.S. Surveillance (GenIUSS) Group is a multi-disciplinary and multi-institutional group of experts convened by the Williams Institute to increase population-based data about transgender people and other gender minorities by advancing the development of gender-related measures for population-based surveys, with a particular consideration for publicly-funded data collection efforts.

Fenway Health works to make life healthier for the people in our neighborhood, the LGBT community, people living with HIV/AIDS and the broader population. The Fenway Institute at Fenway Health is an interdisciplinary center for research, training, education and policy development focusing on national and international health issues. More at fenwayhealth.org.

[From a News Release]