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NY State expands gender data base to better serve needs of LGBT community

2014 New York City Gay Pride Parade
2014 New York City Gay Pride Parade
Photo by Eric Thayer/Getty Images

Although New York State’s Office of Mental Health began including sexual orientation and gender identity questions on admission forms to mental institution in order to allow clinicians to “improve treatment for Lesbian, Gay, and Bisexual patients, as well as those who identify themselves as transgender,” since 2011, other state agencies are just beginning to amass data on gender identity as well in order to “better address health and financial disparities, safety concerns and numerous other issues that impact the LGBT community here,” according to Governor Andrew Cuomo, who added that he was proud of New York’s “history of advancing progressive ideals.”

He also noted that New York’s Office for the Aging updated its records in 2012 to include senior members of the LGBT community, who were found to “likely live alone and lack vital support systems.”

In addition, the director of governmental affairs and community projects for the Empire State Pride Agenda, Jonathan Lang, stated that the expanded data collection will help provide information enabling officials for each state agency to “create more tailored approaches to effectively reduce discrimination for those currently experiencing disproportionate disadvantages for basic needs and services from employment to health care as well as being able to rent apartments or buy homes.” Which can be further complicated by matters of race, religious affiliation, age, marital status (legally recognized or not) and even the cultural make-up of different communities (both urban and rural) within the state.

Note: For readers who are unsure of the difference between someone who is considered to be transgender, and those who identify themselves as transvestites; simply put, transvestites (aka cross dressers) are people who enjoy dressing up in clothes usually identified with the opposite, such as men dressing up as women and visa versa. They may include heterosexuals as well as homosexuals, and even bisexuals. Transgender people, however, are generally males or females who feel that they were “born into the wrong bodies according to their genitalia,” aka males who feel they were really meant to be female, and visa versa (such as Chaz Bono, a girl who underwent a sex change operation to become a man). Both differ from Androgynies who possess a sort of sexual ambiguity having a combination of masculine and feminine characteristics.