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Too Many Boxes, or Not Enough? Preferences for How We Ask About Gender in Cisgender, LGB, and Gender-Diverse Samples


As U.S. society has become more aware of gender identity issues, there has been a push for more inclusive demographic categories that go beyond the traditional gender binary of male/female. In three studies, we assessed the attitudes of U.S. cisgender men and women across sexual orientations (Study 1), heterosexual cisgender men and women (Study 2), cisgender LGB men and women (Study 3), and transgender and gender non-binary individuals across sexual orientations (Study 3) regarding different formats of gender questionnaires. Studies 2 and 3 showed a strong overall preference for the non-binary formats. Across all three studies, preferences for the binary format and objections to the non-binary formats were related to gender-binary beliefs, distinctiveness threat, cisgender and mostly heterosexual male participants, conservative political orientation, and religiosity. These findings suggest that general opposition to utilizing non-binary formats may be influenced by institutionalized binary gender norms and heteronormativity. Across both cisgender and gender-diverse samples, most participants preferred a non-binary gender question format, and gender-diverse individuals overwhelmingly preferred the expanded format. We suggest that those who collect gender data use the expanded format in order to be more inclusive and allow gender-diverse individuals to identify themselves if they choose to do so.

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Correspondence to Kristin A. Broussard.

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The authors have no conflicts of interest. These studies were approved by the Institutional Review Board of Saint Louis University and all participants were treated in compliance with APA ethical standards. All participants provided informed consent prior to participation.

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Broussard, K.A., Warner, R.H. & Pope, A.R.D. Too Many Boxes, or Not Enough? Preferences for How We Ask About Gender in Cisgender, LGB, and Gender-Diverse Samples. Sex Roles 78, 606–624 (2018).

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  • Transgender (attitudes toward)
  • Cultural sensitivity
  • Belonging