Reversing course from a planned initiative to include LGBTQ Americans in the upcoming decennial survey, the US Census Bureau has announced that gender identity and sexual orientation won’t be included among its demographic questions.
Officials submitted their final draft of the census to Congress last week, and its exclusion of SGL and transgender people means these individuals and groups will remain invisible for another decade.
“This is yet another step to deny LGBTQ people freedom, justice and equity,” an outraged Meghan Maury, who leads the National LGBTQ Task Force’s criminal and economic justice project, said.
“If the government doesn’t know how many LGBTQ people live in a community, how can it do its job to ensure we’re getting fair and adequate access to the rights, protections and services we need?”
Other advocates, such as Jennifer Pizer, Lambda Legal’s law and policy director, observed that the omission is “just another way to erase LGBTQ people“. The census provides the federal government with geographic and demographic data on the population of the United States, and aids policymakers and legislators in crafting programs, allocating resources, and providing services to all parts of the country.
By declining to include the LGBTQ community in the survey, experts say, the government could severely underestimate its size and location, and deny or shortchange people in need of its services.
“Programs like PrEP and transgender healthcare, could be underfunded, or not funded at all,” says Casey Hundley, of Pink Triangle. The decision to exclude these groups from the census follows a recent string of anti-LGBTQ actions by the Trump Administration.
Over the past year, the White House has reversed President Barack Obama on Title IX protections for transgender schoolchildren, abolished the HIV Advisory Committee and the Office of National AIDS Policy (ONAP); directed the Health and Human Services Department (HHS) to stop taking complaints about anti-trans discrimination; signed executive orders permitting doctors and hospitals to refuse treatment to LGBTQ patients, based on their “religious beliefs”; and ordered the forced removal of 15,000 transgender soldiers and sailors from the armed forces.
“Given all those horrible developments,” Hundley noted, “It should be no surprise that we are being edited out of the census“. White House officials declined comment on whether the Trump brought any influence to bear on the Census Bureau’s decision.