The 2010 Census

I have been seriously slacking up putting up photos from old magazines, and for that I apologise. I have tons of them, I just have not had very much energy lately.

But, today, a special treat!

The 2010 Census form, which I found wedged into my gate when I came home from errands. Because the only thing better than participating in data collection…is blogging about participating in data collection, right?

My envelope from the US Census, sitting on a bookcase. The address is obscured by my purse. US CENSUS can be seen at the top of the envelope, with address information in the upper left corner. On the lower left, a notice says: 'US Census Form Enclosed: Your Response Is Required By Law'First things first: The envelope, please! Note that ominous black box warning.

The contents of my Census packet. On the upper left, the Census form. The upper left is the notice about the Census, and on the bottom, the return envelope.

The letter from the Census says:

March 15, 2010

A message from the Director, US Census Bureau…

This is your official 2010 Census form. We need your help to count everyone in the United Stated by providing basic information about all the people living in this house or apartment. Please complete and mail back the enclosed Census form today.

Your answers are important. Census results are used to decide the number of representatives each state has in the US Congress. The amount of government money your neighborhood receives also depends on these answers. That money is used for services for children and the elderly, road, and many other local needs.

Your answers are confidential. This means the Census Bureau cannot give out information that identifies you or your household. Your answers will only be used for statistical purposes, and no other purpose. The back of this letter contains more information about protecting your data.

The Census form. Demographic information requested: The number of people in my house, whether I own/rent, my name, my phone number, my sex, my age, my birthdate, whether or not I identify as someone of Hispanic origin, my race, whether or not I stay somewhere else sometimes.

This was it. I was really kind of disappointed. In 2000 we had a long form which had many delicious fields to fill out. This year, this was all. The form folds out so that you can fill out demographic data about other people in the household as well. Assuming you have other people in your household. Which I do not. Over at Feministe, frau sally benz wrote about the questions on Hispanic, Latino, or Spanish origin versus race: Latinos Are Post-Racial! Booyah!

The start of the section on the Census form for "person two," asking name, relationship to person one, and sex.

I thought this was interesting to note; this is the section of the form which would be filled out for a second person in the household. There was a lot of concern about how people in same sex marriages should identify on the Census since the Federal government does not recognize same sex marriages. Here I see “husband or wife” as an option. So, if you’re gaymarried, why, that’s the box you’d check! Also of note: The same options repeat across the form for up to six people (there’s also space for brief details on six more), so if one was in a polygamous marriage, one could also declare that! Likewise, there’s room for folks in poly/group relationships who are sharing the same house with “unmarried partners.” I’m sure the Census didn’t mean it this way…

The cool thing about Census forms is that the information is kept. So even if the Census adjusts gaymarried folks to “unmarried partners,” their answers as husbands and wives will live on.

A handwritten note on my Census form, reading: 'Dear US Census--Y'all are supercool, but I would really love to see 'gender,' not sex, on the Census form. Since it's not, I'm telling you now--I'm genderqueer. Thanks! s.e. smithI am incapable of filling out forms with irritating fields without adding editorial commentary. Consequently, I added this note to my Census form:

Dear US Census—Y’all are supercool, but I would really love to see ‘gender,’ not sex, on the Census form. Since it’s not, I’m telling you now—I’m genderqueer.

Thanks! s.e. smith

This really cheesed me off. One way to collect accurate statistics on trans* folks in the United States would be to collect demographic data about us on the Census. I realise that the Census has limited space, but the missed data opportunity here makes me want to cry. As does the implied assumption that sex=gender. I had a tough time when I got to that part of the form. Forms are hard. Anyway, the Census people do examine the forms by hand, so my note will be seen. I’d encourage other trans* people who feel comfortable doing so to note their gender identity on the form and/or to include a polite request asking that “sex” and “gender” not be conflated on future Censuses.

The inner flap of the Census response envelope, with a note reading 'Thank you for participating in the 2010 Census.'

You’re welcome! Although I was required to by law so I would have done it anyway.

One Reply to “The 2010 Census”

  1. Oh so your census concerns all people living in a household? Ours is for everyone in that particular place on census night. How interesting!

    Also I like your note! I try to make a note about sex/gender on forms, but for the last three or so forms I’ve filled in I haven’t done that as I’ve been too scared of the forms I need not being processed. :/

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