Census makes intersex people ‘invisible’

  • Breaking
  • 18/02/2013

There are concerns the upcoming census will fail to collect crucial information about intersex and transgender New Zealanders.

For some years, intersex groups have been calling for another option under the “sex” section in the census, as some people don’t fit into a male or female category.

Intersex Awareness New Zealand executive director Mani Bruce Mitchell says the lack of another answer means the census is excluding one section of society.

“How do they make decisions about this community when they haven’t got any data?”

She says there is no information available about the number of intersex people in New Zealand, and something needs to be done.

“We don’t collect intersex information with any degree of accuracy… so including it in the census would be good.”

Mitchell, who is an intersex person, says she plans to cross out the other answers and write “intersex” on her census form.

She regularly has the same problem on other forms, and finds it unpleasant.

“You feel very invisible and silenced I guess.”

But despite these calls to add another option in the “sex” section, 2013 Census spokeswoman Vikki Carter says there will only be male and female options this year.

“People should answer that question however they’re living their lives,” she says.

Some intersex people and their supporters are planning to tick both the male and female options, but Ms Carter advises people not to do that.

“We would encourage people not to put two ticks, it will make the data inaccurate.”

She says there have not been any major changes to the census since 2006 because Statistics New Zealand wants to get similar data which can be used alongside previous years’ data.

The Human Rights Commission (HRC) agrees it is a problem that there is not enough data about intersex and transgender people.

“The lack of robust statistical data has made comprehensive assessment of the current human rights status of homosexual, transgender and intersex people difficult,” its website says.

The HRC has also received complaints from intersex people about their inability to categorise themselves as intersex rather than male or female on official documents.

Mitchell also says the census should include sexual orientation and gender identity sections.

The census takes place on March 5.

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source: newshub archive