Young LGBTQI+ people want their diverse experiences reflected in census data, research finds

Young people have called on the government to introduce questions about sexual orientation and gender identity in the 2026 Census.

While the 2021 Census included new questions about defence service and long-term health conditions, it did not include questions about gender identity or sexual orientation.

Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) chief statistician David Gruen said the ABS did consult on and consider including questions about gender and sexuality on the census, but was directed by the former federal government not to include them.

Dr Gruen said gender identity and sexuality questions would again be considered for the 2026 Census.

“The census did not collect information on gender identity and therefore it can’t give you an estimate of the trans population,” he said.

Monash Youth Policy Centre researcher Blake Cutler analysed more than 500 responses to the 2021 Youth Barometer, and found that queer young people wanted their experiences included in the data.

“One avenue that queer young people advocated for was to be included in a formal data-gathering exercise like the census,” he said.

Mr Cutler said the data collection reflected the values and priorities of governments.

“What we collect data on shows what we’re willing to invest effort and time into,” he said.

The ABS is expected to release data later this year on how many people responded with “non-binary” to a question about sex.

Queer health advocates have called on Australia to follow the likes of New Zealand, Britain, and Canada in including questions about gender and sexuality.

Rolling the dice

Raymond Woods works as a cleaner in the regional Victorian town of Traralgon where he continues to face barriers to getting involved in his community.

“Every single time I find a new house, a new workplace, I have to come out,” he said.

He said better data around how many trans and gender-diverse people were in the town would help to inform systemic change.

“It’s those little systems where you’ve got to roll the dice — should I use my correct name and pronouns or my legal name and come out later on?” he said.

A young man stands in front of colourful sculptures.
Raymond Woods says he has faced barriers to participating in the workforce.(Supplied: Raymond Woods)

While he has started to find a new community he said he had been cut off from his biological family.

Mr Woods offered advice to cisgender and heterosexual people when a queer person “lets them in”.

“Let them speak and tell their truth. Say ‘thank you for letting me into your life’,” he said.

“I still feel like we have a long way to go. I’m still on lots of waiting lists to get on hormones and surgery, and I still get dead-named and dead-gendered.

“We have come a long way but we are not going anywhere.”

Better support needed

Mr Cutler’s analysis of 2021’s Youth Barometer also made significant findings into the experiences of young people in school and workplaces.

“In the study, 69 per cent of queer young people reported significant stress about interacting with other students and colleagues. This was 33 per cent more than cisgender and heterosexual young people,” he said.

The PhD candidate said the research also presented a way forward without perpetuating apparent “deficits” in young queer people.

“Focusing on broader interactions and how some of the issues are with interacting cisgender and heterosexual students gives us direction on how we might be able to address some of these challenges,” he said.

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