TEU has released a submission in response to the Tatauranga Aotearoa | Stats NZ’s Sex and Gender Identity Statistical Standards: Consultation document.

The Tatauranga Aotearoa | Stats NZ’s Sex and Gender Identity Statistical Standards: Consultation sought feedback on proposed changes to the statistical standard for sex and gender identity. The changes are part of a review to make sure the final standards work well for Aotearoa New Zealand, and provide guidance for people and organisations that collect and use data about sex and gender.

TEU’s response to the Stats NZ consultation document - informed by members of TEU’s Rainbow Te Kahukura Advisory Group - stems from our commitment to the four whāinga of Te Koeke Tiriti and our wish to see these whāinga enacted in the tertiary education sector and in our society and communities.

TEU’s submission provides analysis of solutions to issues raised in the Stats NZ consultation document, along with further recommendations. The issues raised in the consultation document range from ongoing confusion in our institutions and society around defining sex and gender, ambiguity around key terms and concepts, and a lack of culturally specific identities reflected in concepts.

TEU’s submission notes how a narrow understanding of concepts can lead to the experiences, identities, and expressions of people being trivialised and that standards should be developed which minimise the ‘othering’ of transgender and non-binary people.

TEU’s submission also recommends further work be done to develop appropriate concepts and codefiles relating to culturally specific identities by consulting with appropriate communities, stakeholders, and topic experts. TEU notes this work should recognise both the bi-cultural obligations of Te Tiriti o Waitangi and the multi-cultural realities of Aotearoa including, for example, the cultural gender identities specific to peoples of the Pacific, Asia, the Indian subcontinent, and the Americas.

TEU Rainbow Te Kahukura Advisory Group member Jennifer Middendorf says the Stats NZ consultation is not merely about standardising data collection, and ensuring best statistical practice, it’s about developing greater understanding of issues of sex and gender and promoting wellbeing within our diverse population,

“As a non-binary person, I was faced in the last census with the painful choice of ticking either the male or the female box, neither of which is true for me. So contributing to the TEU’s submission was really important to me, to help make sure that I, along with all of our trans and non-binary members, will in future be asked about gender in a way that doesn’t erase us, but recognises and respects our identities.”