About the Sexual and Gender Minority Question Clearinghouse
The Sexual and Gender Minority (SGM) Clearinghouse is designed to help improve the understanding of sexual and gender minority health and disparities, and provide information on health care access, health-related risk behaviors, chronic health conditions, and use of preventive services. Use this Clearinghouse as a resource to find surveys that include questions about sexual identity, attraction, and behavior. It also includes data on gender identity and household relationships.
Understanding Sexual and Gender Minority (SGM) Topics and Terms
Sexual orientation has three main dimensions: sexual identity, sexual attraction, and sexual behavior.
- Sexual identity refers to the way a person self-identifies with a given sexual orientation.
- Sexual attraction refers to the individuals to whom a person is physically and/or emotionally attracted.
- Sexual behavior refers to the gender(s) of the individuals with whom that person engages in sexual activity.
The most commonly used terms to describe different sexual orientations are lesbian, gay, bisexual, and straight/heterosexual. Because of the complexity of sexual orientation, some surveys focus only on sexual identity while others measure all three components.
Gender identity refers to a person’s internal sense of their gender (e.g., being a man, woman, genderqueer, or gender non-conforming) and potential affiliation with a gender community (e.g., women, trans women, genderqueer). There are several dimensions of gender that can be measured, depending on the goal of the survey: gender identity, gender expression, and gender dysphoria.
Most surveys and administrative data collect demographic data on a person’s sex. The category “sex” is not clearly defined in surveys to differentiate it from gender identity. In some surveys, the “sex” category is completed by the interviewer based on visual assumption only. Gender identity is not the same as sex, although male and female are two of the gender identity options that some people may choose.
Household relationships refers to understanding who lives within the same housing unit as the respondent. Defining and accurately measuring household relationships using surveys has been a challenge. However, despite the difficulty, some federal surveys collect household relationship data. Data from some of these surveys can provide an indirect estimate of the SGM population through the measurement of same-sex couple households.