My submission on the sex and gender identity statistical standards

… wow that’s a mouthful. Also, hi from my very defunct personal blog!

There are only a few days left to make a submission on Statistics New Zealand’s consultation on (see above long title!). This represents a really important step for recognising the very real diversity of gender, including people with no gender, and giving everyone the option to see themselves reflected in government data and decision-making – while ensuring that data is only collected when necessary (gender: not really relevant to my bank account).

I’m not going to lie, it’s a technical document with a lot more nuance than a simple, “Stats NZ are going to put a gender question in the census, what do you reckon?” Which is why it’s awesome that Gender Minorities Aotearoa have put together a really comprehensive guide to the questions and considerations you might want to include in your comments.

You can be as short and sweet as you want, of course! But frequently in these kinds of consultations, especially when there’s a lot of submissions (casts a sidelong glance in the vague direction of the United Kingdom of Great Britain, Northern Ireland and Rampant Transphobia) the responses get summarised or boiled down into “themes” that are common, so being really clear about why you support the standards, or why you think they should be changed, could make a difference.

And a cautionary note! It may be randomized, but at least when I filled in the submission my tick-boxes went from “strongly disagree” on the left to “strongly agree” on the right – and I’d clicked a few wrong before I realised! Thankfully you can go back and correct those if you need to, without losing the comments you’ve added.

I’m also quite proud of what I wrote in the final comment box, so I thought I’d reproduce it here in case it inspires anyone to make sure their voice is heard in support of our diverse whānau and robust data-collection. (And for my own personal edification when I look back on this in five years and think wow, I can actually write kinda well! #ImpostorSyndrome)

I support the submission of Gender Minorities Aotearoa. Stats NZ should ensure its expert advisory group be expanded to include Gender Minorities Aotearoa, ensure more participation of trans women and takatāpui. There needs to be meaningful integration of te Tiriti o Waitangi in all statistical standards, and in this instance, better recognition that the divisions of sex, gender and sexuality they codify take a very Pākehā lens.

I also wish to raise my concerns about a coordinated campaign to oppose these standards, and any inclusion or recognition of trans, intersex and nonbinary people, which has likely resulted in this consultation being overrun with submissions by anti-trans campaigners from outside Aotearoa New Zealand. These campaigners present a strict binary idea of sex and gender entirely rooted in sex assigned at birth and archaic ideas of womanhood.

As a cisgender heterosexual woman, I cannot state strongly enough that my womanhood is not threatened nor diminished by acknowledging that I am fortunate to have a gender identity and way of expressing my gender which aligns with what a doctor saw when I was born and had recorded on my birth certificate. My rights and my ability to fight for those rights is neither threatened nor undermined by allowing trans men and women, nonbinary and intersex people, to accurately describe themselves and see themselves reflected in the data used by government to make decisions which affect all our lives.

The Human Rights Commission’s PRISM report of June 2020 states “A human rights-based approach to data collection requires data to be collected for each specific population.” Though there are areas for improvement, Statistics New Zealand has developed a strong set of standards which allow for accurate data collection for everyone, regardless of sex or gender, and I urge SNZ to disregard the voices of those who are motivated by a desire to erase all gender diversity and deny the reality of our takatāpui, trans, intersex and nonbinary whānau.

Take a few minutes to do your submission now. The Stats NZ submission link and all relevant documents are here. 

The Gender Minorities Aotearoa submission guide is here.

The Human Rights Commission’s PRISM report is linked from here.

QOTD: Jackie Blue on feminism

From an entirely excellent open letter to renowned progressive thinker Paul Henry:

Feminism is a belief that gender should not limit anyone’s chances at life and quite frankly people are deluded if they believe women currently get the same opportunities as men to make it in business, politics and the like.

Only yesterday lawyer and international public servant Vicky Robertson was announced as the Ministry for the Environment’s new chief executive, however the headline just described her as a “Former Hockey Player”. I can’t help but wonder if this headline would have been the same if she were a man.

Jackie Blue’s appointment to the Human Rights Commission in 2013 raised some eyebrows at the time – and fair enough, when a Cabinet Minister with a reputation for making self-serving appointments just happens to name a fellow National MP to a key role in a non-government organisation. But she’s more than proved herself in the role, with no-nonsense statements on the abysmal Roger Sutton sexual harassment case, the Roastbusters investigation, and now on Paul Henry’s sneery mansplaining.