Gender Identity in U.S. Surveillance (GenIUSS) Report

Author: The Williams Institute
Published: Wednesday 19th November 2014 - Updated: Tuesday 28th February 2017
Summary: Best practices for asking questions to identify transgender and other gender minority respondents on population-based surveys.


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," says 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."

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.

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.

"This report provides recommendations that can help researchers and policymakers determine how to deploy sex and gender-related measures on population-based surveys to identify transgender and other gender minority respondents and to gather data that can inform the development of policies and programs to effectively address issues of concern for this population," says report co-author Kellan Baker of the Center for American Progress.

"The overarching message of this report for survey administrators is that it is critical to add measures to identify and count gender minorities, and the time to add those measures is now," says report co-author Scout, the Director of LGBT HealthLink.


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