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Laverne Cox demands US asks questions about LGBT communities on census

Laverne Cox demands US asks questions about LGBT communities on census

Laverne Cox speaks in Washington in support of the LGBT Data Inclusion Act

Laverne Cox has joined members of Congress in calling upon the US government to include questions about sexual orientation and gender identity on the US Census.

The actress joined several Democratic politicians yesterday at Capitol Hill in Washington DC at a press conference on the LGBT Data Inclusion Act, which was proposed last month by Arizona Rep. Raúl Grijalva.

The act – which faces a great challenge in being passed through the current, Republican-controlled Congress – would make federal questionnaires include voluntary questions about sexual orientation and gender identity alongside those about race, age and income.

‘If you’re not on paper, you’re invisible when it comes to the federal government,’ said California Democratic Rep. Xavier Becerra, ‘and it’s time that we allowed all Americans to come out of the shadows, to live a life the way so many of us take for granted.’

Supporters of the bill say that collecting such data will help identify trends between LGBT communities, health and poverty, and to properly allocate federal funds to target issues.

‘Misinformation is allowed to be spread about transgender people because we don’t have actual data about who trans people are and our lived experiences,’ said Cox. ‘LGBT people exist, we are a vital part of the fabric of this country and we just want to be counted.’

Cox noted that a recent survey had found that 41% of transgender people had attempted suicide at some stage in their lives, partly because they felt shunned but society. This made collecting data, ‘A matter of life and death.

‘On a systemic level we’re often told we don’t exist.’

Currently, there is not accepted estimate for how many transgender people there are in the US – with estimates ranging from 0.1% to 2% of the population.

On introducing the legislation last month, Rep. Raúl Grijalva said in a statement, ‘Public officials draft and implement policies impacting the lives of everyone living in the United States. It is vital that they have robust information about the diverse communities within our populace, including the LGBT community.’