NEW JERSEY – Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal Monday co-led a group of Attorneys General from across the U.S. in urging the FBI to formally recognize non-binary individuals for crime reporting purposes by adding a new, non-binary gender designation to its Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) system.
In Monday’s letter to FBI Director Christopher W. Wray, Attorney General Grewal and Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey led a coalition of 21 Attorneys General in urging the FBI to act swiftly to add an “X” gender code, which indicates than an individual is non-binary, to the UCR system. This change would protect non-binary individuals’ interests and dignity and improve the accuracy of federal and state crime data.
The FBI generates national crime statistics by asking law enforcement agencies across the country to submit crime data to its 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.
This 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 or underreport crime incidents when the UCR rejects some of their data.
“New Jersey protects the rights and interests of non-binary individuals in many ways, including by making the X gender marker available on driver’s licenses, and we are eager to do the same in our crime data collection efforts,” said Attorney General Grewal. “We urge the FBI to make this possible by adding a non-binary gender designation to the UCR system, and do it sooner than later. This will allow us to affirm the gender identity of non-binary individuals and improve our ability to identify and understand crime trends nationwide.”
“We applaud Attorney General Grewal for once again positioning New Jersey to lead the nation on LGBTQ equality. Adding an x gender marker allows non-binary and intersex people to enjoy a right that many of us take for granted–having an ID that accurately reflects who we are. We must ensure that all systems are updated in a way where members from the LGBTQ+ community are identified in a consistent way,” said Christian Fuscarino, Executive Director of Garden State Equality.
The letter observes that the lack of a non-binary gender designation in the UCR is “more than a ministerial inconvenience,” as 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 too frequently marginalized and made to feel invisible, including when they are forced to select either a male or female gender designation.
New Jersey is one of twenty-three states and jurisdictions that have added an X gender option to the available gender designations on driver’s licenses. The lack of a non-binary gender option in the UCR creates complications for law enforcement officers who encounter identity documents with an X gender marker, as data containing non-binary gender designations cannot be submitted to 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 generating information about the criminal victimization of the non-binary population.
Monday’s letter acknowledges that the FBI has already begun to consider the addition of adding a non-binary UCR designation, and calls on the FBI to promptly make this critical change.
In addition to co-leads New Jersey and Massachusetts, Attorneys General from the following states participated in today’s letter: California; Colorado; District of Columbia; Delaware; Hawaii; Illinois; Iowa; Maine; Maryland; Minnesota; Nevada; New Mexico; New York; Oregon; Pennsylvania; Rhode Island; Vermont; Virginia and Washington.