Biden Admin: Gender Identity More Valuable to Pandemic Response Than Economic Anxiety

Census replaces income loss inquiry to make room for gender identity in COVID questionnaire

The 2020 census questionnaire / Getty Images
August 13, 2021

The Biden administration has altered a document used to guide policymakers' COVID-19 response to include questions about gender identity and energy consumption but jettison what it considers less useful inquiries, such as how the pandemic could affect future family income.

The Household Pulse Survey, which was intended to measure the impact of the coronavirus on families, has been updated to include questions about gender identity and sexual orientation. The Census Bureau asks respondents what sex they were "assigned" at birth, a phrase commonly used by transgender activists. The agency said the survey, which is distributed to one million households every two weeks, replaced questions about expected job loss and travel plans to make room for inquiries on gender identity, energy use, and summer education for children.

"The new version of the questionnaire … marks the first time a Census Bureau sponsored survey includes questions about sexual orientation and gender identity," the agency said in a statement. "To reduce respondent burden, the Census Bureau removed questions whose utility had declined, including those about applying for Social Security benefits, plans for upcoming travel, and expected loss of employment income."

Adam Korzeniewski, a Marine combat veteran and former Census Bureau employee, said that the move to use transgender talking points in surveys illustrates the agency's increasing politicization and embrace of theories championed by transgender activists. Korzeniewski, who served in the agency during the Trump administration, said the focus on gender identity and sexual orientation makes the survey less effective as a policy tool.

"They are going to increasingly muddy the waters with these questions to where they're going to ask increasing obscure liberal questions, and this is their attempt to remake American society through the bureaucratic process," Korzeniewski said. "By including these questions, and by including what will eventually happen is giving multiple categories of hypothetical genders, is to actually muddy the waters."

The agency has distributed the household survey 34 times during the course of the pandemic and made adjustments throughout to assess how Americans are handling the crisis. The altered survey, which began circulating on July 21, does include two questions about past income and job loss even as it dismisses inquiries into future economic anxiety. The bureau added questions on sexual identity following recommendations of the Office of Management and Budget in an April report. The Biden administration, which did not return a request for comment, faulted the census's previous survey because its choices it gives for sex—male or female—"do not exhaustively describe respondents' identities, primarily for youth or young adults."

"The [Homeland Pulse Survey] is designed to provide useful and expeditious information to support the nation's recovery, focusing specifically on identifying how the pandemic has affected people's lives and livelihoods," the Office of Management and Budget wrote. "[Sexual and gender minorities] are an important demographic group to measure in the [survey] to monitor the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on them."

The agency released its first round of findings on August 11 after fielding responses from about 65,000 households out of more than one million Americans who received the survey. It found the LGBT community had suffered more economically during COVID-19 than other Americans, whom the agency defined as individuals who are straight and "whose sex at birth aligns with their current gender identity." Those who claimed transgender identity made up 0.94 percent of respondents. The Office of Management and Budget noted in its April report that the inclusion of gender identity questions could encounter roadblocks because "translation remains a challenge for the gender identity items."

"Studies show that English-speaking respondents have no problems comprehending the items, although a few conflated sexual identity and gender identity. A majority of Spanish-speaking participants conflated sexual identity and gender identity, and some expressed discomfort in being asked about their gender identity. In addition, a number of Spanish-speaking cisgender participants expressed that their gender identity was 'normal' or 'non-deviant,'" the report said. The Spanish version of the Census questionnaire includes the question with the option of transgénero in addition to male, female, and none of the above.

Critics see the addition of sexual identity questions as further evidence of the politicization of government agencies and their eagerness to cater to activists.

"Under President Biden, wokeism is quickly spreading its tentacles into every part of our government, so it should come as no surprise that the Census Bureau has now adopted the language of gender ideologues," Terry Schilling, president of the American Principles Project, told the Washington Free Beacon.

The altered questionnaire is expected to run through October 11.