Limited gender options

What on earth is this nonsense doing in Scientific American?

Nonbinary Scientists Want Funding Agencies to Change How they Collect Gender Data

The title might as well be Tooth Fairy Scientists Want Funding Agencies to Change How they Collect Fairy Data.

Every year, the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics (NCSES) send a series of surveys to students and researchers around the country. The surveys are used to monitor changing demographics and track levels of financial support for scientific research, and filling them out is required for anyone who receives NSF funding. There are limited gender options in these surveys: male, female and, on some surveys, “do not wish to disclose.”

That’s because female and male are all there are. The issue is what sex people are, and there are only two. You don’t need extra “gender options” for tigers or whales or birds so why would you need them for humans? There are only two.

As scientists who exist outside the gender binary, many of us do wish to disclose our gender, but are unable to do so because these terms do not reflect our identities. 

But you don’t “exist outside the gender binary.” You’re female or male; that’s it. You may think you’re special and interesting, but that’s a different subject, and of no interest or relevance for tracking demographics. People’s luxury “identities” are a social, cultural, political matter, but not a scientific one. Scientists of all people should know the difference.

Nonbinary scientists and other scientists outside the gender binary experience gender beyond the typical man-and-woman dichotomy, and often identify as transgender.

But the issue is what sex you are, and what you think you “experience” is beside the point. You are either female or male. How you experience that is of deep interest to you but not to anyone else.

Being unable to accurately report our gender precludes accurate data collection for these organizations, and further marginalizes nonbinary scientists.

No it doesn’t, because what they’re looking for is how many women and men there are. They’re not looking for “accurate data” on how silly faddists claim to “experience” their “gender.”

Nonbinary identities are increasingly common; most nonbinary people are under the age of 29, and members of Gen Z are more than twice as likely to identify as nonbinary, genderfluid or nonconforming than older generations.

And what does that tell you? That young people can be sadly credulous.

It is time for the NSF and the NCSES to update their policies and language to better quantify and support this growing transgender and gender diverse population.

If they want to quantify that for some reason they can add a new question, but what they obviously should not do is ruin their own statistics by changing the existing question into gobbledygook.

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