It’s Census Time and a box is missing

flexible-gender-identity

I’d like to write about something different today.

Canadians across the country are excited about the 2016 Census.  So many of us wanted to be counted that we collectively crashed the website on the first day.

So why is an entire diverse group of individuals in Canada not able able be counted?

The 2016 Census reads like a 1950 Census.

The options for gender are:

Male

Female

And that’s it. Even though our Prime Minster says he is a feminist, and was often quoted after being elected as saying “Because it’s 2015,” the government completely lost the plot when they created this Census document.  Why?  Because it erases an entire group of folks who already face systemic discrimination and oppression.

Transgender folks, non-binary folks, gender non-conforming folks, intersex folks, two-spirit folks

How can all of these folks correctly indicate their gender when many of them do not identify as male or female, but maybe as both, neither or something that doesn’t fit into any check box?

My Census form would include the following options for gender:

Man

Woman

Transgender Man/Boy

Transgender Woman/Girl

Intersex person

Two-spirit person

Non-Binary Person

Other:__________

Give us options!

Also, for the record sex and gender are not interchangeable terms!

I am a cisgender (born female, identifying as a woman) person who realizes that this is a privilege and I would like to use my voice to be an ally for those who are gender non-conforming.   I certainly do not want to speak over voices of people who are not cisgender.  I do want to tell my government that I do not want their voices ignored. I will write more about why this issue is one I feel passionately about in another blog entry.

This entry is relates directly to the mental health theme of my blog. Supporting, validating, hearing, recognizing and empowering gender non-conforming folks contributes to better mental health outcomes for them.   Also, transphobia is a form of systemic oppression.  Being oppressed isn’t conducive to health.  It’s also important to remember that oppression is layered and multiplicative.  Trans and gender non-conforming folks who are also People of Colour face even more risks and exclusion because they experience with racism and transphobia.  Same goes for trans folks who live with disabilities (abelism) and those who identify as, or are read as women (trans misogyny).

The 2016 Census, in my humble opinion, does not support, validate, recognize or empower gender non-conforming Canadians.  It erases their very existence and clings to the rigid gender binary.  It further marginalizes a marginalized group of  diverse citizens.

Shame on you Census!  It’s 2016 and everyone’s voices deserve to be heard.

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