Laverne Cox was on Capitol Hill today, calling on the federal government to count her and other LGBT Americans in official population surveys.
“Misinformation is allowed to be spread about transgender people because we don’t have actual data about who trans people are and our lived experiences,” Cox said at a press conference. “LGBT people exist—we are a vital part of the fabric of this country and we just want to be counted.”
“It’s a matter of life and death—on a systemic level, we’re often told we don’t exist.”
She was joined by members of Congress who support the LGBT Data Inclusion Act, which would require the U.S. census and other federal surveys to ask voluntary questions about sexual orientation and gender identity, along with the usual queries about race, age, income and the like.
The goal is to get a handle on the size of the LGBT community. “If you’re not on paper, you’re invisible when it comes to the federal government,” said Rep. Xavier Becerra (D-CA).
A Gallup poll from 2015 claims 4% of the U.S. population is LGBT, but critics claim it could be closer to 10%, depending on your sample size and questions.
Estimates on the size of the transgender population range from 0.3% to 2%. (That little decimal point makes a big difference.)