Collecting Transgender-Inclusive Gender Data in Workplace and Other Surveys

Filed under: Transgender, Workplace

For reporting purposes, employers tend to "over-ask" for demographic data such as age, gender and ethnicity. Particularly when asked for something related to work, the question of gender with seemingly simple "female" and "male" options can pose a challenge for transgender people, particularly those that are in the process of or are considering transitioning genders. Some may be concerned about how that data may be used or compared to personal records, or they may feel limited by the "female" or "male" options. When evaluating whether to ask employees about gender on non-essential forms, employers should consider:

  • What is the business rationale for asking about gender on the particular form?
  • How does asking for the data relate to your organization's overall diversity strategy?
  • How will that data be used, protected and reported? What legal restrictions might there be on collection or storage of demographic data, in the U.S. or globally?

If the data is not essential, consider removing the question, make sure the question is clearly optional (particularly for online forms) or allow people to self-identify by asking an open-ended question.

Options for Gathering Data on Gender and Gender Identity

Below are examples of how some employers have attempted to capture gender-specific data from employees, followed by examples of how some employers have attempted to capture gender identity data to gauge the transgender population in their workforce. Although the most unwieldy option for data collection and reporting purposes, option 3 is generally preferable since it allows people to self-identify.

What is your gender?

Option 1 (most restrictive):
If collecting restrictive gender data is necessary, allow employees to identify in accordance with their gender presentation whenever possible.

  • Female
  • Male
  • Prefer not to say

Option 2 (less restrictive):
This option can draw unnecessary attention to transgender status.

  • Female
  • Male
  • Prefer to self-describe (please specify): _____________
  • Prefer not to say

Option 3 (least restrictive):

  • Gender? ____________
  • Prefer not to say

What is your gender identity?

Option 4:

  • Female
  • Male
  • Transgender FTM (female-to-male)
  • Transgender MTF (male-to-female)
  • Non-binary/gender fluid/genderqueer
  • Not sure
  • Prefer to self-describe (please specify): _____________
  • Prefer not to say


Sexual Orientation & Gender Identity

Because sexual orientation and gender identity are distinct, transgender status should generally not be asked in the same question as sexual orientation. However, asking whether or not a person identifies as part of the larger lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer community might be appropriate, depending on the situation.

You should not ask:

Do you identify as/Are you...?

  • Bisexual
  • Gay
  • Lesbian
  • Transgender
  • Queer

You might ask:

Do you identify as a member of the LGBTQ community?

  • Yes
  • No, but I am an Ally
  • No
  • Prefer not to say

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