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"We know it's a little clichéd – but here's what we want to tell the census: We're here. We're queer. And we want you to ask us about it."
April 1, 2010 8:36 PM   Subscribe

The 2010 United States Census will be able to count gay marriages and partnerships. George Takei and his husband tell you how. Even with the restrictions placed on that data by the Defense of Marriage Act, that's good news for the LGB part of the spectrum, but what about T? If you're transgender, despite what the Census might tell you, it's not so simple to be counted. (hat tip to nadawi)

And for those of you who are queer but single, the Equal Roots coalition encourages you to use the "some other race" option to declare your sexual identity along with whatever other race identification you may choose.

Queer the Census is pushing for an LGBT-inclusive question on the Census.
posted by ocherdraco (44 comments total) 12 users marked this as a favorite

 
This is extremely good news!
posted by biochemist at 8:39 PM on April 1, 2010


That is a fabulous living room.
posted by The Whelk at 8:40 PM on April 1, 2010


Just reading "Defense of Marriage Act" makes me angry.
posted by maxwelton at 8:46 PM on April 1, 2010 [4 favorites]


Just seeing loving gay Star Trek nonsense makes me happy!
posted by Mike Mongo at 9:00 PM on April 1, 2010 [4 favorites]


In terms of DOMA resulting in not counting legal same-sex marriages (in CA and MA) as marriages:

Census officials have said the agency will retain same-sex spouses' original responses but will edit them for the published census tabulations

The lack of data about same-sex married couples will inhibit researchers who want to better understand a variety of issues, such as wage differences for gay married couples and discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, said Gary Gates, a demographer at the UCLA School of Law.

I wonder if anyone will be able to get at the "original responses" data, or if they'll make it available as supplementary data or something. (The second italicized paragraph implies no, but I'm curious.) They better, imo.
posted by sentient at 9:14 PM on April 1, 2010


I bet nobody pitched a fit about how many pages the DOMA bill had.
posted by contessa at 9:19 PM on April 1, 2010 [7 favorites]


Census 2010 to Report Same-Sex Marriage Data (08/2009):

The Census Bureau will for the first time publicly release the number of gay marriages reported in a decennial census, as it plans to release raw data about same-sex relationships in the 2010 headcount, according to new guidelines released today.

The decision reverses a Bush-era policy that prohibited the release of the data. In a legal opinion published last week, Commerce Department lawyers concluded that the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act does not prohibit the Census Bureau from publicly releasing the data, contrary to the conclusions reached by Bush administration lawyers.


Huh. So I guess we can assume the data will be available...
posted by sentient at 9:22 PM on April 1, 2010


I'm asking these in earnest, and not intending to be snarky. Do transgenders want to be counted as a separate group? Do they seem themselves as a separate (sort of) gender? Or do they seek to be the gender they are transitioning to, and try to identify themselves as that for things like the Census? Or (most likely) is there a wide range of opinion, from people wanting to be seen as T and others who just want to make the transition and then disappear into their now-corrected gender?

I try to be sensitive to trans politics, being queer in my own right. But I don't fully understand a lot of the sense of Owning The Status, or whatever you want to call it, and would welcome elucidation about how this oft-overlooked letter in the queer alphabet soup operate in things like a Census.
posted by hippybear at 9:25 PM on April 1, 2010 [1 favorite]


seem = see. grrr. edit window!!!
posted by hippybear at 9:26 PM on April 1, 2010


There is nothing I don't like about George Takei.

If you find something, don't tell me. I don't want to know.
posted by Riki tiki at 9:28 PM on April 1, 2010


George Takei should totally be doing voiceover work and narrating documentaries as his voice is as soothing and warm as a big mug of hot cocoa with cinnamon.
posted by serazin at 9:47 PM on April 1, 2010 [16 favorites]


I'm asking these in earnest, and not intending to be snarky. Do transgenders want to be counted as a separate group?

I think they simply feel unrepresented by "mainstream" gay rights organizations like HRC. I'm just a plain ol' gay man too, so I can't say I know that's the answer, but the gay rights movement hasn't really done such a good job for the T in LGBT. We (and by "we" I mean the mainstream gay rights community) kind of treat trans people the way Democrats treat gay people - as a reliable bloc with nowhere else to go.
posted by me & my monkey at 9:50 PM on April 1, 2010


There is nothing I don't like about George Takei.

If you find something, don't tell me. I don't want to know.


It's his fault I turned out to be such a rice queen. Him and that hot Filipino guy in high school. I'm not sure if you'd count that as a negative though.
posted by me & my monkey at 9:52 PM on April 1, 2010


This is interesting:

Counting Same-Sex Couples: Official Estimates and Unofficial Guesses, by Martin O'Connell and Daphne Lofquist, Issued May 2009 [PDF]

(from http://www.census.gov/population/www/socdemo/hh-fam.html#same-sex, where there's more info.)
posted by sentient at 10:03 PM on April 1, 2010


George Takei should totally be doing voiceover work and narrating documentaries as his voice is as soothing and warm as a big mug of hot cocoa with cinnamon.--serazin

A friend of mine was involved in this project years ago that involved recording the experiences of people who were interned in the Japanese-American concentration camps during WW2. It wasn't for publication, but to record the memories to pass on to their kids and grandkids so they would know what they went through.

Although they were sure they wouldn't be able to afford him, they asked George Takei's agent what he would charge to narrate the recordings. He got back to them and said he'd do it for $200.
posted by eye of newt at 10:52 PM on April 1, 2010 [23 favorites]


"Hi, I'm Brad Altman, and this is a foil hat on my head."

"Or why I'm still wearing this Starfleet uniform? It's to actually get you to listen to this important message."

I have such a crush on these two now. SO FREAKING ADORABLE.
posted by jenfullmoon at 10:58 PM on April 1, 2010 [4 favorites]


eye of newt - what a great story!

He's such a lovely example of how coming out can give someone a whole new life. I don't know, maybe it doesn't feel like a new life for him, but even as a life-long trekkie, I really never thought about the guy when I wasn't watching reruns until he turned out to be gay. And now he's like a fucking national treasure!
posted by serazin at 11:01 PM on April 1, 2010 [1 favorite]


George Takai: Oh My!!!!

or a slightly more commercial version.
posted by hippybear at 11:18 PM on April 1, 2010


George Takei should totally be doing voiceover work and narrating documentaries as his voice is as soothing and warm as a big mug of hot cocoa with cinnamon.

It's James Earl Jones quality deep manly voice.

Also, I love that he's wearing the uniform from the best ST film.
posted by rodgerd at 12:00 AM on April 2, 2010


hippybear: "Or (most likely) is there a wide range of opinion, from people wanting to be seen as T and others who just want to make the transition and then disappear into their now-corrected gender?"

This, probably. I expect that one of the things US trans activists want to get out of the census is a more accurate count, as population estimates of transgender people can affect all sorts of things (like health coverage) and the "official" estimates put the population much, much lower than the numbers worked out in-community. Battling against this is the likely desire of people to avoid outing themselves on any kind of central register, as it's possible such information could leak, or be used as political ammunition by the right.

me & my monkey: "I'm just a plain ol' gay man too, so I can't say I know that's the answer, but the gay rights movement hasn't really done such a good job for the T in LGBT. We (and by "we" I mean the mainstream gay rights community) kind of treat trans people the way Democrats treat gay people - as a reliable bloc with nowhere else to go."

Hell yes. The current commotion over the revenge flick Ticked Off Trannies With Knives is proving to be a doozy. GLAAD, having censured the film (for using *that word* in its title, and for using the names of real murder victims in its trailer), apparently received a lot of complaints from cis people in the community, presumably for not supporting gay film-making. The whole situation is another horrible collision between trans people and the larger LGB community, and I'd probably do a huge and detailed FPP if I wasn't so close to the subject and if I felt I could cope with doing trans 101 again.
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 12:13 AM on April 2, 2010 [3 favorites]


I bet nobody pitched a fit about how many pages the DOMA bill had.

No one seemed upset at DOMA shoving a religious agenda "down our throats", either. Funny, that.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 12:37 AM on April 2, 2010 [3 favorites]


Otherdraco's choice of phrasing is apt: when Mason Davis says "Transgender men, mark male; transgender women, mark female. It's that simple", he's totally wrong. It is not that simple. Some people's identities aren't as simple as just "male" or "female"; a lot of people have much more complex sex and gender identities than those two boxes allow for.

Also, not being able to count trans people as trans people means that we still don't have a good idea what percentage of the population is trans, and trans people therefore can't get access to the resources we deserve.
Do transgenders want to be counted as a separate group?
Some do, some don't. By the way, please only use "transgender" as an adjective, not as a noun. Thus, say "transgender people", not "transgenders". And just as it's an adjective, it can modify nouns and other adjectives: "transgender woman", "transgender African-American man", etc.
Do they seem themselves as a separate (sort of) gender? Or do they seek to be the gender they are transitioning to, and try to identify themselves as that for things like the Census? Or (most likely) is there a wide range of opinion, from people wanting to be seen as T and others who just want to make the transition and then disappear into their now-corrected gender?
There is most definitely a wide range of personal preferences about this. Some people were assigned one gender at birth and feel more comfortable in another one; some people move fluidly from one gender to another, as the spirit moves them; some people want to be androgynous; some people don't feel comfortable in either of the two standard genders; some people want to move beyond the entire gender system. Pretty much every possible combination of gender and sex you can think of, there's someone who that could describe. Gender and sex are wonderfully complex, nuanced things.
posted by jiawen at 1:00 AM on April 2, 2010 [4 favorites]


In a related video: George Takei responds to Tim Hardaway's homophobic rant.

Previously.
posted by WalterMitty at 1:50 AM on April 2, 2010


Wow, George Takei has lovely handwriting.
posted by bettafish at 3:27 AM on April 2, 2010 [1 favorite]


I think I actually swooned. There was clutching of the chest and kind of a gentle keeling over a few degrees, anyway.
posted by kalimac at 4:16 AM on April 2, 2010 [1 favorite]


I love George Takei, that is all.

Oh wait, that's not all. My partner would like to be able to check off both transgender and male, but that's not possible. I respect transgender people who prefer to check off just male or female, too.

The more accurate part is so important, particularly in the area of health. Finding trans-friendly doctors, not to mention specialists, is really difficult and there are still vast areas of unknowns. The Gay Lesbian Medical Association has some good fact pages on health for transgender people, but there are still so few resources out there that many transgender people do not get the health care they need (and like many people, can't afford it).

(ArmyofKittens, I'd help you with that FPP if you want, I've been following that news as well.)
posted by Wuggie Norple at 4:20 AM on April 2, 2010 [2 favorites]


By the way, please only use "transgender" as an adjective, not as a noun.

English has rules for shorthand that allow the use of adjectives as nouns where the actual noun is implied. We can speak of Asians, Whites, Blacks, Gays, Lesbians, Straights, Queers, Fords, Chevys, etc. Speaking in only the most proper grammar, we'd refer to Asian persons, and Ford trucks, but saying "Asians love Fords" (true or not) is a useful shorthand that doesn't offend.

In that light, I'd ask you to reconsider your distaste for the use of the adjective "transgender" as a noun. When used without malice, it really ought to be no more offensive than referring to "Queers."
posted by explosion at 4:28 AM on April 2, 2010


explosion, if you've been witness to someone using "transgender" as a derogatory noun, maybe you would understand why there's a preference. Anyone can use a word to twist it into something hateful.
posted by Wuggie Norple at 4:42 AM on April 2, 2010


My gay roommate and I joked about filling out the census as if we were married. Like, "ha ha ha We wouldn't really do it ha ha ha WE SHOULD TOTALLY FUCKING DO IT ha ha ha..."

and if I felt I could cope with doing trans 101 again.

ArmyOfKittens, you're amazing at trans 101. It's such a disappointment that it needs to be taught at MeFi over and over and over again with each trans-related post, but that's the peril of a growing site, I guess, or the power of one bigot spewing their idiocy to ruin a conversation. I lost my patience for doing gay 101 a long time ago, so my hat's off to you (and everyone else who takes time with transphobia here) for all you do to keep things smart.

posted by mediareport at 4:59 AM on April 2, 2010


As an interesting footnote, George Takai spent a few years in a Japanese-American internment camp during WW2, which was known for using census data to identify and round up citizens for these camps. I'm surprised he has any faith whatsoever in the census after that.
posted by dr_dank at 5:26 AM on April 2, 2010 [2 favorites]


dr_dank: "As an interesting footnote, George Takai spent a few years in a Japanese-American internment camp during WW2, which was known for using census data to identify and round up citizens for these camps. I'm surprised he has any faith whatsoever in the census after that."

Agreed! That's why I found this post so confusing. Takai knows that the government broke the law not to share the Census information and instead used the data for one of the worst rights violations in US history, and yet somehow wants to have GLBT individuals easier to identify and discriminate with that information? I don't think I'd want the government to have that kind of information, out of the simple fear of some sort of DOMA 2: Republican Boogaloo, using the collected information to know exactly who they should deny rights for this time.

Like almost everyone else in this thread, I love love love the Takai. But it makes me sad to think that his free expression of love with the partner of his choice is facilitated mainly by the fact that he's a celebrity. There are so many individuals that do not have that luxury that suffer in silence as their rights are continuously trampled by government. And I worry about giving that same government any information that makes it any easier for them to continue to trample their rights to live and love as other individuals in the US get to do.
posted by TheFlamingoKing at 6:51 AM on April 2, 2010 [2 favorites]


The government that interned people is not the government we have now. Fearing the government is the worst thing you can do. Change it, fix it, whatever. Being afraid of it? I filled out my census as a gay man living with another gay man. I'd do it again.
posted by Peztopiary at 7:04 AM on April 2, 2010 [4 favorites]


DOMA is evil. Even though I live in a jurisdiction where same-sex marriages are legal, my employer uses DOMA's definition of marriage to determine eligibility for health benefits.

@TheFlamingoKing:
Actually, the laws were put into place after that incident to prevent it from happening again. The current laws protecting census information are incredibly comprehensive.
posted by schmod at 7:09 AM on April 2, 2010 [1 favorite]


For those of us who are gay-married, the government (at least that of the state we married in) *already* has that information. Same for civil unions/domestic partnerships. That's the point.

So yeah, we filled out our census form in the way that makes it clear that we're gay-married.
posted by rtha at 7:16 AM on April 2, 2010


I have only casually followed this literature, but it was possible to get some information on LGBT citizens from the 1990 and 2000 Census. See these these papers. But these were estimates that required some strong assumptions and were only limited to cohabiting.
posted by scunning at 7:27 AM on April 2, 2010


I am psyched that the census will be counting gay marrieds now, but I question the idea of adding gay check boxes, as is being advocated by the Queer the Census folk. Leaving aside any potential mis-use of census data, a count of queers is sure to come up way low (since so many are closeted) and it seems to me, if we had a gay check box, that the data would be used to "prove" that there aren't very many of us anyway.
posted by serazin at 8:17 AM on April 2, 2010


You have the bridge Mr. Takei, the main bridge of my heart! The automatic love screens just kicked on!
posted by fuq at 8:20 AM on April 2, 2010


There are so many individuals that do not have that luxury that suffer in silence as their rights are continuously trampled by government.

This is the very reason why people with a higher public profile (like Takei and Altman) are doing a PSA like this. Recognition is key, for everyone.
posted by cmgonzalez at 8:46 AM on April 2, 2010


George Takei has a semi-regular gig sitting in on the Howard Stern radio show, and his frank openness and easy-going, good-natured wit have made him a beloved fixture and popular fan favorite (and this among a fan-base with a sizable homophobic contingent). When he's in the studio, it's always a fascinating couple of hours.

Plus, he loooves to talk shit about Shatner.
posted by Atom Eyes at 9:36 AM on April 2, 2010 [1 favorite]


As an interesting footnote, George Takai spent a few years in a Japanese-American internment camp during WW2, which was known for using census data to identify and round up citizens for these camps. I'm surprised he has any faith whatsoever in the census after that.

Considering that our past and current Presidents are cool with illegal wiretapping and suspension of habeas corpus, whatever data you put on a census form should be the least of your worries, I'd think.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 3:03 PM on April 2, 2010



Plus, he loooves to talk shit about Shatner.


Such shit aaaassssss?
posted by The Whelk at 3:56 PM on April 2, 2010


Apparently, our man Bill was a bit of a prima donna back in the day. (Shocking, I know!)

But seriously, I could never do his stories justice. You have to hear it straight from the source.
posted by Atom Eyes at 4:08 PM on April 2, 2010


oh! i'm so glad to see this get more views! it never occurred to me to make it a FPP, so thanks for taking up the banner!
posted by nadawi at 8:14 PM on April 2, 2010


(I know a few other people have already discussed these questions, but—)
Do transgenders want to be counted as a separate group? Do they seem themselves as a separate (sort of) gender? Or do they seek to be the gender they are transitioning to, and try to identify themselves as that for things like the Census?
-hippybear

There is, as you go on to guess, a pretty wide range of choices. Some of us want to "go stealth" and sever all links with our past on the other side of the Binary Gender Divide. Some of us (like me!) want to live comfortably on the other side of that binary from where we were born, but openly acknowledge the change we went through. Some of us want to be a Third Sex, some of us want to constantly play with our gender presentation and question the whole idea of "gender".
But I don't fully understand a lot of the sense of Owning The Status, or whatever you want to call it, and would welcome elucidation about how this oft-overlooked letter in the queer alphabet soup operate in things like a Census.
For me, it comes down to a pretty simple slogan all you gay folks used in the eighties: Silence = Death. If every tranny goes stealth then we only exist to people at our most vulnerable state, the one where we're just starting transition, don't pass worth a damn in body, clothing, or social interaction. And if we can't be counted, it's easy for us to be marginalized, demonized, and under-represented.

Being a transwoman isn't the whole of my identity, it's not even the major part of what I define myself as. But it's certainly there. I hadn't thought about the Census at all, but, you know, it would be pretty nice to be able to say "I have (gone/am going) through this difficult change in my life, look how many of us there are, maybe the system should try to allocate an appropriate percentage of resources to make this sort of thing easier."

at least my household will be able to fill it out and try to tell the census that we're poly by checking "husband or wife" for all the relationships between the three of us. anyone want to lay bets on how much data like that gets thrown out because the database only supports monogamy?
posted by egypturnash at 7:58 AM on April 3, 2010


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