asa council decides on gender categories

Remember how the ASA was trying to decide how to expand its gender categories? Since then, the ASA Committee on the Status of LGBT Persons in Sociology has been holding conversations, doing research on how other organizations do it, and thinking through what schema will best capture the sociological categories that are meaningful to people. They came up with the following proposal, which ASA Council voted on and passed at their meeting this week:

Please select all that apply:

  • Male
  • Female
  • Transgender Male/Transgender Man
  • Transgender Female/Transgender Woman
  • Genderqueer/Gender Non-conforming
  • Preferred Identity (in addition to or not listed above) _____________
  • Prefer not to state*

*the precise language for this opt-out line is TBD.

You can get the sense that these categories are trying to acknowledge both biological and social formulations of gender, while making clear that the one does not imply the other. Select all that apply.

It is going to take a little time for the implementation of these changes, but you can expect them when you renew your ASA membership for 2016.

7 thoughts on “asa council decides on gender categories”

  1. Why the need for an explicit “prefer not to state”? Can’t people just leave this and whatever other questions they don’t want to state blank? (Or does the interface not allow that?)


  2. The technical aspects of the membership database are shrouded in mystery. My sense is that folks wanted to make sure that one way or another a non-response was allowed, and so this category was added as a friendly amendment to the Status Committee’s proposal.


  3. “Why not drop the question at all? Does the ASA really need to know?”

    The ASA uses these data in published reports on the discipline, and has also been known to share some of these data with members who ask. (In aggregated form, to protect confidentiality.)

    Fun facts about gender in the discipline that we wouldn’t know if ASA didn’t ask the gender question:

    *In 2010, gender segregation in section memberships was about the same as or slightly higher than gender segregation in detailed occupations reported in national labor force surveys. (Section_membership_D=0.447.)

    *In the same year, women purchased 53% of all section memberships, 17% of memberships in the most “male” section and 87% in the most “female” section. Karma points to the scatterplot reader who can guess what these sections are without looking at the ASA’s data.

    *1.6% of section memberships were purchased by members who chose not to answer the gender question. (Excluded above.)

    Bonus quiz: in which two sections did more than 5% of members choose not to answer the gender question?

    Liked by 3 people

  4. In addition to these, I have two more reasons. The first is to provide a warm welcome to new members, regardless of gender identity. Even if the ASA did not provide such excellent gender analysis, the communication to members that this is an inclusive organization is an important one, in my view. Second, I think that the ASA should be an example to other membership organizations in terms of the social categories for sex and gender. Because of this, I think these categories should change with the times, so members should keep revisiting these as times go by.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. I think this is better than male/female.but I’m not entirely comfortable with the “male” option actually meaning “cisgender male.” A person who is transgender might prefer to identify their gender as “male” than as “transgender male.” The best option I’ve seen is a two question variation:

    (Q1) How would you describe your gender identity?
     Male
     Female
     Non-binary, genderqueer, other

    (Q2) Do you identify as transgender (the gender assigned at your birth is different from your current gender identity)?
     Yes
     No

    Liked by 1 person

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