The Department of Health and Human Services annually conducts a national survey measuring the demographics, special needs, and social functioning of individuals who receive services funded by the Older Americans Act. This data helps the government establish performance outcomes and benchmarks, identify service gaps and areas for program improvements, and support budget requests.

Though HHS already surveys participants’ sexual orientation, the agency should proceed expeditiously with also asking about, and ultimately sharing, survey data on participants’ gender identity. Incorporating a question on gender identity into the survey would ensure that older transgender adults—a vulnerable population of great social and economic need—are accurately counted for federal funding to service providers.

We helped SAGE and more than 70 other elder, healthcare, and LGBTQ+ advocacy organizations submit a comment on the Biden administration’s proposed revision of the National Survey of Older Americans Act Participants. In the comment, the organizations applauded HHS’s existing survey question on sexual orientation and suggested that:

“Given the especially high risk of greatest social and economic need faced by transgender older adults, the great risk that they will not access the services and supports they need to live independently, and the paucity of data, the need for [HHS’ Administration for Community Living] to collect data about the gender identity of participants in Older Americans Act-funded programs is especially great.”

Read the entire comment here.