This post was originally published by The19 on September 24, 2021.
In July the U.S. Census Bureau began asking Americans about their sexual orientation and gender identity — a watershed moment that marks the first time the federal government has attempted to capture data in its large real-time national surveys on LGBTQ+ Americans. .
The results so far are preliminary, but they indicate the disparities Americans experienced before the pandemic continue to endure for up to 18 months. For some, those disparities have deepened.
According to the data, which captures results from July 21 to September 13, LGBTQ+ people more often than non-LGBTQ+ people reported losing jobs, not having enough to eat, being at higher risk of eviction or foreclosure and Reported to be more likely to face difficulty. Pay for basic household expenses, according to the Census’ Household Pulse survey, a report that measures how Americans are faring on key economic markers during the pandemic.
While think tanks and advocate-led research groups such as the Williams Institute at the UCLA School of Law have previously studied LGBTQ+ poverty, any large government population survey, such as the Census or surveys conducted by the Treasury Department, captures real-time Haven’t tried. Economic experiences of LGBTQ+ people.
Previously, those analyzes were limited to the study of “same-sex couples,” a question that the Census began analyzing in 1990 with limited success, but that excludes a significant portion of LGBTQ+ people. Advocates say a lack of accurate data on the population as a whole – and in particular on transgender people, a group that has been surveyed for a long time – hinders any federal response to persistent inequalities.
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“being on [the Pulse survey]”Both as a way to understand what’s happening during the pandemic, but also hopefully as a starting point for more federal data collection, is a really important moment,” said senior public policy senior at the Williams Institute Scholar Bianca DM Wilson said.
Data is only just beginning to be collected, and it is still too early to tell whether the differences between groups are representative of the LGBTQ+ population as a whole or only those surveyed by the census at a given point in time.
While the researchers caution against drawing major conclusions, trends emerging in the data are consistent with other surveys from before the pandemic as a result of employment discrimination, low wages, discriminatory lending practices and other policies that have limited economic mobility for queer people. .
According to the 19th analysis of the first four releases of census survey data, 23 percent of LGBTQ+ people and 32 percent of trans people reported losing employment in the month before the census questionnaire was conducted. About 15 to 16 percent of non-LGBTQ+ people reported it.
About 12 percent of LGBTQ+ people said they sometimes or often don’t have enough to eat. For non-LGBTQ+ people, the figure was between 6 and 7 percent, and for trans Americans, it was as high as 24 percent. About 31 percent of queer people also said they had difficulty paying basic household expenses; It was 23 percent for non-LGBTQ+ people.
Housing insecurity was rampant across all groups, with more than 40 percent of people – both LGBTQ+ and non-LGBTQ+ – said they were likely to be evicted by the end of September or October.
It is not clear how accurate the data is for transgender Americans because the sample size is so small. But it does what is already known: Roughly 29 percent of respondents to a 2015 US transgender survey, conducted by the National Center for Transgender Equality and viewed as the only comprehensive study of its kind, said that they lived in poverty. About 30 percent said they had experienced homelessness in their lifetime.
David Schwegman, an assistant professor of public policy and administration at American University, said: “These are one of the types of systemic inequalities that we saw before the pandemic, that the pandemic has not only deepened for both groups, but has also become widespread. ” Researched “same-sex couples” and housing discrimination.
Wilson at the Williams Institute said that absent such large-scale data collection about LGBTQ+ people, policymakers can’t really answer the big questions about whether efforts to address the economic stress caused by the pandemic — such as The federal eviction moratorium – now expired – was working for everyone.
But data collection is only one step towards equity.
Dean Spade, an associate professor at the Seattle University School of Law who also advises on an upcoming national LGBTQ+ women* community survey by the think tank Justice Work, said the only way to real change is by counting trans and LGBTQ+ people at the federal level. more is required.
Helping marginalized people better understand the problems they face doesn’t necessarily mean that their suffering will be addressed through policy, he said — and that trans people are accustomed to social services or taking them into account. has not been created. This is why trans people, for example, are helping each other pay for medical procedures that aren’t covered by insurance, building housing and mutual aid networks for those experiencing homelessness, Spade said.
“We’re just helping each other survive,” he said.
And there are still significant challenges with data as it is. The sample size is small, an issue that has prevented marginalized communities including Asian women, Native Americans and Pacific Islander women from being represented in real-time data on some national surveys.
Those small sample sizes make it difficult to draw large conclusions from data for months. The Census Bureau said in a statement that it does not currently have additional analysis to offer on the data, although it published a report this summer on the first set of LGBTQ+ data that found LGBTQ+ people compared to non-LGBTQ+ people. more likely than . Facing financial hardship.
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“The primary focus has been on timely data collection and release, but there are plans to release data products in the future that will provide additional context,” the bureau said in a statement.
The second challenge is to formulate questions in a way that takes into account people’s knowledge gaps that best describe their vocabulary.
Census surveys, for example, ask respondents to choose which one best represents how they think of themselves: “gay or gay”; “Bisexual”; “anything else”; “I do not know”; or “Straight, he’s not gay or lesbian.” Economists noted that in previous attempts to phrase these questions, heterosexuals have marked themselves as false, so additional phrases have been added to improve clarity.
The survey also asked whether people describe themselves as male, female or transgender, and some transgender people may not want to identify themselves given the rise in anti-trans bills nationwide, Schwegman said. .
Spade points to small studies led by advocates as important pools of information that can’t be found elsewhere, as they ask questions about daily threats like over-policing and poverty.
“I think studies like this, for a lot of us, may be more valuable than some big ones that don’t ask questions or miss out on whole groups of people in our community,” he said.
Real-time data from surveys such as the current census, which will collect responses from July 21 to October 11, can help influence policies in real time. Wilson said the problem with epidemiological policies in Congress this fall is that the data is coming in too late.
“It’s 18 months into the pandemic, and this was the starting place, we wouldn’t be looking at a sample size that would cause problems for all the analyzes we want to do to understand a trans-specific experience,” said Wilson. he said.