Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Census, Schmensus

Hi everyone,

Well, here's the "official" answer I got from the Census bureau about how to be counted as a transgender (or LGB) person. It basically says do nothing other than mark the boxes they have without modification and be satisfied with the smoke that they are blowing up our skirts.

They say just mark your preferred sex only and hope for future changes. Follow the link below and then the links on that page. You can see for yourself that there is absolutely nothing of substance there for us in spite of the fact they hired a trans-person to answer our questions.

I, for one, am not satisfied at this multi-billion dollar, over-budget method of being totally ignored and marginalized (again) by our Government and so I am urging everyone to make a third box labeled "Transgender" or "Transsexual" and then write in how you identify if you wish. But don't use the provided boxes - force them to hand tally these forms. It isn't much I know, but it is something we can do to let them know we we exist!

Hugs and Blessings,

----- Forwarded Message ----
From: Edward J. SanFilippo
To: Eva-Genevieve Scarborough
Sent: Wed, March 17, 2010 9:19:30 AM
Subject: Re: Fw: A question regarding transgender people

Hi Eva,

Thanks for getting in touch! As the Transgender Specialist for the
whole Census, this question is very important to me, which is why we
created the Transgender Fact Sheet, which can be found at in the second link. The
document may not answer every question for the trans-community, but as
the first official outreach by the federal government, it's a great

In your email to Matt, you expressed a lot of frustration about not
being able to mark 'trans' on the form. Obviously I understand this.
Unfortunately, changing/adding a question on the from takes years of
advocacy work and a mandate from the federal government. In general,
Congress must make the decision. To date, there has not been an
organized,long-term effort by the trans community to make this happen.
In a political climate where a fully-inclusive ENDA is so
controversial, I'm sure you understand how problematic the entire
issue can be.

Your best bet is to simply answer the question as truthfully as
possible (every individual decides what this means for themselves),
and of course, mail it back. The fact that my position exists within
the Census is a tremendous step forward, and one that hopefully
inspires you to stay engaged to make a difference on future forms. If
you have any further questions, please don't hesitate to contact me.


Edward J. SanFilippo
LGBT Partnership Specialist / Transgender Specialist
U.S. Census Bureau
(619) 864-5287


  1. Personally, I see it as a non-issue - for myself - I'm transitioning to be a woman - so I'm opting to mark 'F' - essentially the one formerly known as me in male form vanishes...YEAH!!!!

  2. You really wouldn't expect anything besides Govt. bureaucratic nonsense, would you?

    Besides, the purpose of the census is to determine where tax money gets spent, and to decide congressional districts.

    They don't spend tax money on us, and politicians don't care about our vote.


  3. I'm not sure what the big issue is. I identify as a woman, so I checked the "F" box... and since Jack and I are an unmarried couple, I checked "unmarried partner".

    Pretty simple, really.

  4. For those of us that depend on the Government for things like medical care and in many cases our daily bread too, the issue of being counted as transgender/transsexual becomes very important. If we don't exist, statistically speaking, there is no reason to expect the Gov't to listen to our needs or amend and enact laws and regulations that would promote our equality and/or safety. That is why it was so easy to drop the T from ENDA the first time out.

    Since this information gathered is to determine how to spend then it really is important to make as much noise as we can so we can't be ignored. The same goes for people with disabilities, for people who are homeless or that have some other critical need - they too are invisible in this census unless they speak up.


  5. Agree with two of the above saying you are making a mountain of a molehill, and that you just fill-in M or F according to your preference. 100% contrary to the idea that the census is oppressive in this regard, it is the one and only interaction with a governmental entity where your preference will be accepted on your say-so alone (as opposed to changing the markers on other documents only with proof of surgery, therapist letters, or etc.)

    If OTOH, your all fired up to be "Neither/None of the Above" and have that information actually recorded, here is what you do: 1. Select "Other" under Race and write"transgender," "androgyne," "dissenter," "smurf," or whatever in the space provided. Again, your self-designation will be accepted and recorded. .

    Unlike the idea of making your own box. Marginal notes will be disregarded for the simple reason that the data fields to record it don't exist. By all means do it if it gives you a feeling of self-satisfaction. Myself, I find a nice wank the most efficient means of achieving that aim.

    You may object that "transgender" is not a race, but nor is it a gender. By definition "transgender" is beyond or, indeed, the opposite of gender. While it may be ones self-identity, it is no more a gender than "artichoke" or "blue."

    Obviously I'm not speaking for the Census Bureau. But trust me, the reason why I know these issues (and why I post this anonymously) is sound.


    Hope that helps!

    P.S. To the extent that this is a legit concern (and I somewhat agree that it is) it's purely one regarding the T part of the rainbow. Not a gay issue at all. There's no questions about ones sexuality in the census (and I can't imagine why anyone would wish there to be). But there is no way to declare yourself "straight" in the census either. In the case of partners sharing a domicile, the gender of those partners can imply they are homo or hetero. The current census questions are fully equal opportunity insofar as making that implication. In the case of single folk ones sexuality is moot--gay or straight.

  6. Amendment to the above:

    If you did declare your race to be "smurf" or whatnot, there's a chance you'd get some follow-up contact trying to clarify the issue. But if you then insisted "I'm a smurf dammit!" that would be the end of the story. Like sexuality, sanity is another matter the census isn't designed to assess or enumerate ;)


  7. Hi Eva,
    I love your suggestion. I am advocating the same thing, marking your own gender on the form, making them take the time to sort it out. I am a transgender person, and marking either male or female would not be in any way accurate for me. I need to access medical services for trans people specifically in order to get competent care!

    Check out how to mark your own gender on the census form here:

  8. An interesting idea and one that is not without merit. Probably too little too late to do us any good. Maybe it's time to start a petition to get it added to the next Census (10 years from now).

    However a lot of trans people prefer anonymity so I tend to doubt it's effectiveness for getting trans funding.

    As a Census taker for 2010 I can attest to the fact that comments and marks outside the boxes will not be counted.

    If you wind up taking the Census with a Census taker you may refuse to answer this question and ask the enumerator to put down your reason in the notes section. This area will get read. The notes section applies to the D-1 (E) forms used by Census takers and may not apply to the mail in forms. I've not seen those.

    The question is meant to refer to one's sex. So give them what you prefer. But a Census taker will not draw in a new box and can only add to the "notes section".

    There is no marker for being gay or lesbian identified is only possible if you have a partner living with you and you select (husband/wife) or unmarried partner and both have the same sex marked. Otherwise that is unknown as well.