The American Sociological Association, the leading professional organization for American sociologists, is now granting its members much greater leeway in how to define their gender identities.
Previously, the ASA’s membership surveys only allowed three choices of gender: “male,” “female” and “prefer not to answer.”
Now, as reported at Inside Higher Ed, members will have no fewer than seven options for their gender choice, with the added ability to select “all that apply.” The added options include “transgender male/transgender man,” “transgender female/transgender woman,” “genderqueer/gender non-conforming,” or another “preferred identity” of their choice not explicitly named.
“Genderqueer” is defined by the Gender Equity Resource Center at the University of California-Berkeley as “A person whose gender identity is neither man nor woman, is between or beyond genders, or is some combination of genders.”
The new gender choices are the end product of over a year of debate on how to expand the sociological community’s gender options. In the second half of 2013, the organization planned to add categories for transgender individuals as well as an “Other” option. However, some members objected that being designated as an “other” marginalized them. Some advocated for the gender category being free-form, with members filling out a blank space however they desired.
The new gender options will not immediately come into effect, but are expected to be in place by the 2016 ASA membership year.
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