Many postsecondary datasets collect gender data in ways that are not inclusive of all students. Many trans* students, those who identify as trans women, trans men, genderqueer, among other gender identities, are excluded when surveys collect gender data using only two categories. The American Bar Association recently became the first sector of higher education to collect and report enrollment data using three gender categories for all U.S. law schools. Between 2014 and 2019, there was a steady rise in the number of law schools that reported enrolling students in the “other” gender category. We interpret this growth to signify that law schools are beginning to collect data on students who were already there, not a reflection of exponential growth in trans* enrollment in law school. A more inclusive approach to gender data collection is necessary to better understand the educational trajectories of trans* students. However, data collection alone is not sufficient and may in fact be problematic. Importantly, we encourage quantitative researchers to consider their role in processes of administrative violence—that is, the ways in which the use of discrete identity categories (such as male, female and/or other) can create barriers for trans* students as they access healthcare, student housing and campus services.
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