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Document Type

Article

Abstract

This Article examines the “straightwashing” of the census through the “Identity Undercount”—the failure of the state to collect sexual orientation and gender identity (SOGI) population data in government surveys such as the Census. The Identity Undercount, while counting the literal bodies of LGBT people, erases their lived identity. For many in the LGBT population, their lived identity and reality is one of poverty and powerlessness, a reality contrary to the widely accepted narrative that the LGBT population is more affluent and powerful than the rest of the population. Because federal and state governments rely on population data to drive policy decisions about the allocation of $675 billion in federal funds, most of which is apportioned to anti-poverty programs, the straightwashing of government data does real harm to LGBT people in poverty. If policymakers cannot see the problems, they cannot craft meaningful policy solutions or modify existing policies to meet the needs of the LGBT population. Because data are tied to resource allocation, the Identity Undercount results in resource deserts where LGBT people do not get critical and necessary services. The Article argues that the government should collect SOGI population data and that the near-complete failure to do so makes the state an active participant in creating and sustaining institutionalized poverty for LGBT people.

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