CDC omits Transgender youth from LGB Campaign claiming ignorance

CDC Campaign info-graphic

The CDC is well prepared for a ‘Zombie apocalypse’ but doesn’t know how to ask if one’s transgender.

The Center for Disease Control has released a study on violence against LGB youth campaign, designed to highlight how lesbian, gay and bisexual teens and children face an extraordinarily high amount of violence, bullying and harassment, leading to higher rates of suicide and depression.

Whilst some members of the LGBT+ community are praising this study there are some who have found that it lacks in some areas, particularly with it’s exclusion of the transgender population.

The info-graphic released for the report makes no mention of transgender youth or the struggles that they face, despite the fact that are very similar to those that the rest of the LGBT+ population experience and can be combated in the same ways.

When challenged as to why the transgender population was not included in this study the CDC  responded on facebook saying;

‘Thanks for all the great questions and comments related to why transgender youth are not included in the info-graphic.  Transgender youth are included in all Youth Risk Behavior Surveys.  However, we do not have a question to identify them.  The challenge is developing a credible gender identity question that is appropriate for students and consistent with the YRBS question format.

‘We are working on developing and testing a question on gender identity.  This is an important next step to determine if YRBS can be a good source of data on the transgender population.  We are committed to preventing violence before it happens among all youth.’

I will be the first to admit that I am not an expert in this field, that I don’t have the same level of education or training as the people who work for the CDC, but am I totally missing the point of what they’re saying here.  They don’t have a question that identifies trans people?

I’ve filled in enough surveys and applications over the last few years that have asked me my gender and included the options of male, female or transgender.  Is that not enough to identify people as transgender for a study?  Is asking’what’s your gender’ and leaving a blank space for people to write the answer not a method?  How the hell can the CDC not have a way of identifying trans people?  Every other organisation seems to have been able to.
*With the exception of T-Party Republicans who routinely use similarly contrived ignorance to block trans positive legislation which invariably results in enhancing life threating conditions for the trans population.

Whilst the CDC may be struggling to find a way of finding out information on trans people there are many organisations that have released extensive studies on the subject that have managed to find a way of doing so, perhaps in the future the CDC might be able to consult with them to either use their data or simply to ask, ‘how did you find out people were trans?’.

Best Practices for Asking Questions to Identify Transgender and Other Gender Minority Respondents on Population Based Surveys — This 2014 Williams Institute publication would be a fine place to begin.

Many members of the trans community have taken offense at the results of the study, citing it as yet another example of trans erasure or an attempt to split the transgender population away from the larger LGBT+ group.  Whilst I don’t think that any plan to separate trans and the rest of the community was put into play here, it still has the worrying effect of trying to further ‘other’ the transgender community.

Transgender people are being murdered at all time high rates in the USA.

High res downloadable PDF Image courtesy CDC website

One thing that is worthy of note, the CDC is claiming that they don’t have the data regarding transgender people, that they have no definite information in order to be able to include them or write about their struggles, however, they have created an official page regarding the zombie apocalypse.

Thank you for the message you’re sending out CDC, ‘we can’t possibly get out heads around trans people and how they work in the real world so we’re not going to include them, but zombies, yeah, we can totally get on board with zombies’.
Do better CDC.  Do a hell of a lot better.


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Amy is a journalist and editor contributing the websites Planet Transgender, Gay News Network, The Bottle Episode, The Retro Box and Claire Channel. Amy is also a published comic book writer and letterer. In addition to her writing Amy has also worked with the Centre For Hate Crime Studies in Leicester and has worked in the capacity of an advisor to the United Nations Entity For Gender Equality and The Empowerment of Women.



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