More than half of trans and non-binary people are misgendered in death by officials, new research suggests.
Research, published in the Journal of Public Health Management and Practice, found that between 2011 and 2021, more than half of transgender and non-binary people who died during this time period were misgendered on their death certificates.
Kimberly Repp, chief epidemiologist for Washington County and one of the study’s authors, noted that this could impact the allocation of resources like social services and public health programs, which can change depending on a region’s vital statistics.
She said: “What we learned will likely alarm anyone who identifies as transgender or non-binary – or anyone who cares about the rights of transgender and gender non-conforming people.”
“When a population is not counted, it is erased.”
The HRC, which trans violent deaths of trans people, has often warned that many trans people are misgendered in death, and therefore go uncounted.
The research was conducted by public health officials from Multnomah, Washington and Clackamas, and focussed on the Portland, Oregon, metro area, and looked at the recorded deaths of 51 trans and non-binary people.
It revealed systemic gaps in coroners’ ability to accommodate trans and non-binary people.
The majority of medical examiner case management software does not include a field for gender identity, and there is no national requirement for death investigators to be trained about how to verify a deceased person’s gender identity.
Next-of-kin also have unilateral power to declare a deceased person’s gender and have it changed on a death certificate, which can lead to what the study calls “nonconsensual detransitioning” – when the next-of-kin rejects the deceased’s trans identity.
Kimberly DiLeo, chief investigator with the Multnomah County Medical Examiner’s Office, said that while it has been “proactive in training our staff to record gender identity… without adequate tools to collect this data and changes at a national level, we are limited in what we can do”.
in 2019 the American Medical Association made attempts to tackle increasing violence among transgender people by establishing a more consistent way to collect data on trans identity.
Despite this, the report noted that no agency regularly collects information about gender identity at death.