In full transparency, the following is press release from the Massachusetts Attorney General’s office submitted to SOURCE media.
BOSTON – Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey today, June 28, co-led a coalition of 21 attorneys general urging the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) to add a new non-binary gender designation to its Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) system to protect non-binary individuals’ interests by affirming their gender identity and to improve the accuracy of federal and state crime data collection.
The FBI generates national crime statistics by asking law enforcement agencies across the country to submit crime data to the UCR program—which currently allows only male or female gender designations.
As a result, law enforcement agencies encounter errors if they attempt to submit crime incident data in which individuals have been identified as non-binary.
In today’s letter to FBI Director Christopher Wray, the coalition, led by AG Healey and New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal, calls on the FBI to to add an “X” gender code, which indicates that an individual is non-binary, to the UCR system to allow the states to affirm non-binary individuals’ gender identities when collecting and sharing crime data.
“Non-binary individuals are already subjected to higher rates of violence and harassment, and they may choose not to report crimes if they know they will be misgendered in the process,” AG Healey said. “We are calling on the FBI to immediately take action and eliminate this barrier to ensuring our non-binary residents are protected and recognized.”
Today’s letter argues that the lack of a non-binary gender designation in the UCR is “more than a ministerial inconvenience,” because refusing to recognize non-binary individuals’ gender identity in crime reporting is an affront to their dignity and may cause harm to their mental health and well-being. Adding a non-binary gender option would affirm the rights of non-binary individuals, who are frequently marginalized and made to feel invisible.
The current lack of a non-binary gender code in the UCR discourages law enforcement agencies from collecting data that accurately reflects the gender of gender non-conforming individuals, as the UCR system rejects data containing gender codes other than male and female. Those agencies that do recognize non-binary individuals’ gender in their crime data systems must either incur the cost of revising their data before submitting it to the UCR, underreport crime incidents when the UCR rejects some of their data, or submit inaccurate data when limited to male and female gender codes.
Massachusetts and 21 other states as well as the District of Columbia have now added an “X” gender option to the available gender options on driver’s licenses. The lack of a non-binary gender option creates complications for law enforcement in these states, as they have no way to input an “X” gender marker into the UCR.
In addition to eliminating these logistical complications, changing the UCR system would also improve the accuracy of the FBI’s crime statistics overall by making available information about the criminal victimization of the non-binary population.
Today’s letter acknowledges that the FBI has already begun to consider the addition of adding a non-binary gender designation to the UCR and calls on the FBI to promptly make this change.
Joining AG Healey and AG Grewal in sending today’s letter are the attorneys general of California, Colorado, the District of Columbia, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Minnesota, Nevada, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia and Washington.