When was the last time you took a survey or filled out a form where you had to specify your sex, gender or sexuality?
One friend who is transgender and bisexual discovered that their statewide LGBT group was asking people to self-identify on its website donation page, and it was only possible to select one identity when the options given were “lesbian,” “gay,” “bisexual,” “transgender,” “ally” and “other.”
For my friend, marking “other” didn’t seem right … “I really want there to be more bi/trans* visibility,” they told me, “especially since many people think trans* people are either all gay or all straight (depending on who you ask) and, of course, no one thinks a trans* person could be bisexual despite bisexuality being the largest sexual orientation group among trans* people.”
Other LGBT+-specific surveys that one would think would attempt to be extremely inclusive leave certain identities out as well. For example, one survey received by BiNet USA that claimed to be about “Sexual Minority Men’s Gender Attitudes and Wellbeing” ended up having a pretty narrow focus on gay men, despite being promoted as a study that included bisexual, genderqueer and transgender men too.
We still live in a heteronormative and cissexist society, and that is no clearer to me than at the doctor’s office. When I fill out their forms and identify as female, my doctors always assume that that means that I am heterosexual, so they ask me if I am on birth control … In fact, if doctors are making assumptions about a patient’s gender, sex and sexuality without verifying with the patient, mistakes are just waiting to happen … Much clearer questions should be asked on surveys and questionnaires, especially in the medical field, if accurate data is to be collected, and for all people to receive the best medical care possible.
Great questions raised about how we ask people to identify, in categories. Researchers thus define the categories people can identify with…