Laverne Cox: Counting LGBT People In Census “Is A Matter Of Life And Death”

Advocates are speaking out in support of the LGBT Data Inclusion Act.

Laverne Cox was on Capitol Hill today, calling on the federal government to count her and other LGBT Americans in official population surveys.

“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,” Cox said at a press conference. “LGBT people exist—we are a vital part of the fabric of this country and we just want to be counted.”

The Orange is the New Black actress says getting good data on the trans community is critical, with potentially billions in funding at stake.

“It’s a matter of life and death—on a systemic level, we’re often told we don’t exist.”

Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call

She was joined by members of Congress who support the LGBT Data Inclusion Act, which would require the U.S. census and other federal surveys to ask voluntary questions about sexual orientation and gender identity, along with the usual queries about race, age, income and the like.

The goal is to get a handle on the size of the LGBT community. “If you’re not on paper, you’re invisible when it comes to the federal government,” said Rep. Xavier Becerra (D-CA).

A Gallup poll from 2015 claims 4% of the U.S. population is LGBT, but critics claim it could be closer to 10%, depending on your sample size and questions.

Estimates on the size of the transgender population range from 0.3% to 2%. (That little decimal point makes a big difference.)

Dan Avery is a writer-editor who focuses on culture, breaking news and LGBT rights. His work has appeared in Newsweek, The New York Times, Time Out New York, The Advocate and elsewhere.