‘Nonbinary’ is typically used to describe all genders which do not fit inside the binaries of male and female. Some people use it to include identities such as Agender, genderfluid and genderqueer.
‘Trans’ is typically used as shorthand for the term transgender and describes men and boys who were assigned female at birth as well as women and girls who were assigned male at birth.
‘Trans*’ is typically used to describe all genders where the person’s gender does not align with their birth sex (ie. everyone who is not cisgender). In this way it encompasses both trans and nonbinary people as well as gender diverse people who may not identify as nonbinary. Some sources, however, use ‘trans’ and ‘trans*’ interchangeably.
What’s the current problem?
Taking a look at how you talk and think about gender is an important task not just for researchers but for everyone in society too. In social research, we often need to ask people what their gender is, and how we do this is very important. Many quick and simple adaptations can be made to the ways we talk about and record gender data. These must be carefully considered as misclassifying people’s gender by assuming that they are limited to male and female, or by assuming someone’s gender based on their appearance, only serves to limit: the freedom of subjects to express their gender; the validity of our demographic data; and how ethically sound the research practices are.
When choosing to record data on the subject’s sex it is important to consider if it is truly relevant to measure sex or simply an easier question than asking about diverse gender. We have produced a guide to help you to collect gender data and ensure inclusive research practices, though if the measurement of sex is needed for your research, remember to also consider that biological sex isn’t always binary either.
Why is it important?
Demonstrating the consideration of gender-diverse people in research and welcoming their authentic identities will also help to encourage a broader population of people to engage in social research. From this, not only does the data become more reliable and the findings more generalisable, but social researchers can also help to set a precedent across wider society that no gender should be presumed or excluded.
What can you do?
Researchers can make simple changes to survey questions, interview procedures and the way they communicate with participants to help make their practices more inclusive and drive change across the field. Taking a look at how you talk and think about gender is an important task not just for researchers but for everyone in society too. To find out more about how to make research gender inclusive, visit our changemaker academy and download our guide.