Canada to Adjust Census in 'Non-Binary Fashion' to Be More LGBT-Friendly

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The transgender pride (L), pride (C) and Canada 150 pride flags fly following a flag raising ceremony on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, June 14, 2017. |

The Canadian government led by President Justin Trudeau is working to adjust questions on the country's population census so that it can "better reflect" the way some "non-binary" Canadians identify themselves.

Earlier this week, Minister of Finance Bill Morneau tabled the 2018 budget in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa. Included in the budget is a section highlighting ways to improve census data so that it is "more inclusive."

"In order to obtain more inclusive data on sex and gender, Statistics Canada officials have been working with LGBTQ2 organizations to adjust Census of Population questions and response options to better reflect how people identify themselves, for example, by allowing respondents to answer in a non-binary fashion," the budget proposal states. "This will provide critical information to help understand and meet the needs of LGBTQ2 Canadians."

The proposal also explains that such adjustments to census questions will "enrich policy development, while simultaneously providing a modern census that is inclusive of all Canadians."

The budget also explains that the government plans to create a "Centre for Gender, Diversity and Inclusion Statistics," and an "Indigenous Statistical Capacity Development Initiative" to help acquire "inclusive data on sex and gender."

The move to change the census to be more responsive to those with "non-binary" gender identities, comes as there has been criticism and pressure placed on the government from the LGBT community.

Before the 2016 census, the LGBT community voiced concern that some non-binary Canadians would not be able to accurately answer the question on gender because the only options are "male" and female."

"I have a major concern however with the exclusionary way that the category of gender/sex has in the past been strictly limited to an option of either male or female," Quinn Nelson, a non-binary student at the University of Calgary, wrote to Parliament member Navdeep Singh Bains in 2016, according to BuzzFeed. "As a non-binary transgender individual, I would be wholly unable to fill out a census (long or short) accurate and completely."

BuzzFeed reports that an official from Statistic Canada responded to Nelson by saying that transgender Canadians were encouraged to "indicate the sex (either male or female) with which they most identify."

In the United States, the LGBT community has also pushed the U.S. Census Bureau to add questions about seuxal orientation and gender identity to the American Community Survey and the 2020 Census.

NPR reported that four federal agencies under the Obama administration, including the Justice Department, pressured the Census Bureau to place questions about sexual orientation and gender identity on the American Community Survey. Over 75 members of Congress also made such a request.

The American Community Survey consists of 3.5 million households each year.

The agency initially responded by saying that there was "no federal data need."

Under the Trump administration, the Justice Department has not reaffirmed its request for the sexual orientation and gender identity questions. Last year, the Trump administration announced that it will not include sexual orientation and gender identity in the 2020 census of the American Community Survey.

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