Tuesday 5 March is Census day in New Zealand and The Queer Avenger’s are supporting a call for gender diversity in the census.
The two tickets campaign urges people to tick both “male” and “female” on their 2013 census forms, regardless of whether or not they are included in the current categories as a sign of support.
Queer Avenger Ian Anderson says, “Many of us identify as male or female, but we are ticking both boxes to show solidarity.”
“Gender is a spectrum,” he says. “Some people are born intersex. Some people live as fa’afafine. Some people identify with a binary gender, male or female, but not the gender they were assigned at birth, while others don’t identify with the binary at all.” However, Anderson notes that the current census does not cover these identifications.
The Queer Avengers note that this exclusion has wider effects, in healthcare and other policies. “Policy is formed based on census data,” says Queer Avenger Emily Haskell. “If they’re asking the wrong questions they’ll get the wrong answers. This results in narrow and unrepresentative policies in government and beyond – policies which alienate trans* people throughout public life.”
Statistics New Zealand has spoken out about the consequences of ticking both “male” and “female” and say “If the question about sex isn’t answered, or there are multiple responses, a response is imputed based on other answers.”
It has been noted that the only other gendered question in the census is question five which reads. “If you are female, answer this question. How many babies have you given birth to?” It asks if you are male to skip the question. The question poses a problem for trans* men who have given birth to children yet would tick “male” on the forms.
The Queer Avengers note that this is one of many ways transfolk are marginalised and oppressed. “We’re just getting started in understanding gender and sexual diversity, and making a better world,” says Anderson.
| Sarah Murphy