That everyone’s voice be counted, accurately

  • March 29, 2021

In a democracy it is important that each voice be counted, we learn early in life. But what we don’t hear as often is that how accurately we are counted matters, too. That’s especially true when we are part of a minority or marginalized group.

When standards and definitions fail to cover a population’s diversity it can result in information gaps in the statistical portrait of Canada’s population. In an effort to improve data on sexual minorities Statistics Canada began collecting information on sexual orientation in 2003. Fifteen years later, it added “sex at birth” variables to better reflect transgender people.

The topics of this year’s consultation include updating the definition of gender and ensuring the standards for gender and sexual diversity are properly defined and relevant. Statistics Canada is adding two new categories: “Transgender non-binary person” and “Non-binary gender” to replace “Transgender person, not elsewhere classified” and “Gender diverse,” respectively.

In its comments on the consultation, the CBA’s Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Community Section says Statistics Canada has proposed meaningful improvements in capturing the diversity of the LGBT2Q+ community. The proposed changes will contribute to a better understanding of sex, gender identity, gender expression, sexual orientation, sexual attraction and other markers of LGBT2Q+ status in an understanding, sensitive and nuanced way.

In particular, the Section is pleased to see the term queer in the proposed classification, even though that word can carry different and often complex meanings. It also appreciates that Statistics Canada is proposing breaking up sexual orientation into identity and attraction, “which are independent variables that are not always treated that way.”

The Section, however, proposes Statistics Canada amend some of the definitions pertaining to asexual persons. In particular, where proposed definitions say an asexual person experiences no sexual attraction, the CBA believes the text should be amended to read “little or no sexual attraction” instead.

The submission concludes by thanking Statistics Canada for having devoted “much thought and consideration into these proposed updates and new standards for gender and sexual diversity statistical metadata.”