We Need to Include Gay and Transgender People in Demographic Data

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Official government data clearly play a critical role in our country’s policymaking process. Without information about the gay and transgender population, however, public policy cannot adequately serve these individuals and their families. Further, the lack of reliable data in policy debates and decisions increases the likelihood that stereotypes and myths will shape policies that impact the gay and transgender population.

Case in point: One of tomorrow morning’s top news stories will be the latest unemployment numbers, which the Bureau of Labor Statistics will release at 8:30 a.m. The media will cover the overall rate itself, as well as how different groups of people in the United States are experiencing unemployment, including women, younger workers, and African Americans and Latinos.

Gay and transgender workers,* however, will not be discussed in the coverage because the bureau does not collect any demographic data on sexual orientation or gender identity. As other research suggests that gay and transgender people have some of the highest rates of unemployment in our country, the bureau should take steps to add these questions as soon as possible.

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