Last week, on Tuesday 5th of March, the nation of New Zealand took part in the 2013 Census .
I noticed that the question ‘why’ was repeatedly asked by the general population. There was also a prolific television campaign encouraging people to fill out the forms and explaining why the census is important.
I was surprised that in this so called modern era, there are still a number of inequitable questions. For example, questions that assume that the New Zealand population is made up of only two genders – male and female.
Although many people do identify as either male or female, not everyone fits into this binary notion of gender. Some identify as genderqueer, neither male nor female, while others are born intersex. I have quite a few friends and acquaintances who are trans*, and this option is not acknowledged either.
One of the phrases used in the Census campaign was ‘Everyone counts on census day’.
Green party MP Jan Logie questions Who counts on census day?
Also, the Two ticks campaign started by The Queer Avengers asked people to tick both “male” and “female” on their 2013 census forms, regardless of whether or not they are included in the current categories, as a sign of support.
People are rightfully passionate about being acknowledged. Here are a few visual examples from my facebook feed on census day:
It’s a shame that some groups are not represented, as this only adds to their marginalisation in society. Census data is used to help determine how government funding is spent, and is used to make decisions about services like hospitals, public transport, and recreational facilities. Trans* and genderqueer communities deserve to be counted as much as any other.