For data’s sake: dilemmas in the measurement of gender minorities

Jennifer L. Glick, Katherine Theall, Katherine Andrinopoulos, Carl Kendall

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Gender-minority health disparity research is limited by binary gender measurement practices. This study seeks to broaden current discourse on gender identity measurement in the USA, including measurement adoption challenges and mitigation strategies, thereby allowing for better data collection to understand and address health disparities for people of all genders. Three data sources were used to triangulate findings: expert interviews with gender and sexuality research leaders; key-informant interviews with gender minorities in New Orleans, LA; and document analysis of relevant surveys, guides and commentaries. Ten key dilemmas were identified: 1) moving beyond binary gender construction; 2) conflation of gender, sex and sexual orientation; 3) emerging nature of gender-related language; 4) concerns about item sensitivity; 5) research fatigue among gender minorities; 6) design and analytical limitations; 7) categorical and procedural consistency; 8) pre-populated vs. open-field survey items; 9) potential misclassification; and 10) competing data collection needs. Researchers must continue working toward consensus concerning better practices is gender measurement and be explicit about their methodological choices. The existence of these dilemmas must not impede research on important health issues affecting gender minorities.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1362-1377
Number of pages16
JournalCulture, Health and Sexuality
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 2 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • Measurement
  • USA
  • gender minority
  • gender non-conformity
  • transgender

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health

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