Although the goal of the Census is to count everyone living in the U.S., certain populations are inevitably undercounted. Transgender and queer people, LGB people, people of color, immigrants, people who are experiencing homelessness, renters, people living in rural areas, people with low incomes, people living with disabilities, people with limited English proficiency, and young children are overwhelmingly undercounted in the Census. To ensure fair access to democracy and social services funding, it is important for our community to be accurately counted in the 2020 Census.
We believe that stories and data to back those stories mean that queer and trans people are owning their own narrative. This is especially true in centering queer and trans people of color equity.
Without data our lives are anecdotal to decision-makers and they are more likely to discount our stories and lives. Matching data with our stories is one way to identify our own issues and inequities as well as our own solutions.
It is important that we not only fight to make the Census count the diversity of LGBTQ+ community but also fight for SOGI inclusion. The Census is a pathway to a more representative democracy, it helps make sure there are enough resources in a state to go around, and it makes our civil rights more than just words on paper.
The Census is how we figure out how many people in our community need access to public benefits like SNAP, Section 8, and Medicaid, and how much money our community will get from the federal government to support those programs. It’s also how we determine political representation – from drawing our Congressional districts at the federal level to distributing power at the state and local level. It also lays the groundwork for enforcement of our civil rights – we have to be able to show that a policy or practice disproportionately impacts a community if we are going to contest that policy.
Since the Census was created, it has served the interests of white and wealthy populations and has funneled more resources into those communities and away from the communities that need it the most. The U.S. Census Bureau estimates that 16 million people were not counted or possibly incorrectly counted in the 2010 Census – generally people who experience multiple forms of oppressions. An estimated 2.1% of the black population, 1.5% of the Latinx population, and 4.9% of Native Americans and Alaska Natives were undercounted.
Though the Census does not explicitly ask about gender identity or sexual orientation, LGBTQ people exist within all the different populations that are undercounted and underserved. It is important for us to be counted in the 2020 Census to ensure that our communities have fair access to democracy and social services funding. We are part of this country and we need to be represented.