By 3 News online staff
In a world-first, Statistics New Zealand will now include the option of 'gender diverse' instead of the binary 'male' and 'female' choices when collecting official data.
The Statistical Standard for Gender Identity was developed in consultation with groups representing people with different gender identities and government organisations which will use the new classification.
Stats NZ classifications manager Jo-anne Allan hopes the option will become widely-accepted across the world and the department has recommended the 'gender diverse' term for official statistical use.
"It's a complex issue as gender identity is about how a person feels and experiences their gender, which can change over their lifetime. We've worked with a wide range of government and community groups to finalise this standard and the terminology.
"We believe the gender diverse population see it as a step towards being seen, counted, and understood."
Gender identity differs from a person's biological sex, Stats NZ says, and the new data will help organisations plan how to best collect information they need.
Ms Allan says gender information is personal and should only be collected when there's a good reason.
Using the term isn't mandatory, but there are already several government organisations, including Stats NZ, are looking at how to best use it.
Stats NZ says the change was driven partly to "enable policy-makers to develop measures that will address matters of importance affecting gender minority groups".
It says it will more adequately address the health, social, education and employment needs of those across the gender identity spectrum.
It was also to meet requirements for data collection and to support the legal requirements of the Human Rights Act 1993.