Having worked in a university I know quite directly how vital census information is. This information is the lifeblood of research and planning. Like the TV advertisement says – we use it to design our cities, plan our services, develop business plans, and even decide what language books to have in our libraries.
When filling out the forms this year I will be facing a personal dilemma because one of the first questions asks me to identify my gender as male or female. I do identify as female, but I know a significant number of people who do not identify as either male or female.
It’s a bit like telling me I can’t identify as Pākehā/European because the only options are Māori and Polish. That would be very confronting personally, I would wonder why the state didn’t acknowledge my existence to begin with, and I would also have quite legitimate concerns about the validity of the results.
For several years now, some transgender and intersex people and allies have been lobbying for more accurate gender options to ensure statistical rigour and not to force anyone to fit a box that is the wrong shape. Sadly this lobby hasn’t been successful which makes it really difficult for us to plan for the needs of our trans and intersex communities. There is now a two tick campaign asking people to tick both male and female to bring this issue directly to the statistics department.
While I understand, and respect, the two tick campaign I’m not sure I’ll be able to bring myself to tick both boxes, especially since Statistics New Zealand have said they’ll infer a binary gender based on my other answers. I will however be pushing for our next census to finally reflect the reality of our gender diversity.