Inclusive forms

An image with rainbow banners top and bottom and text "Can you make your forms more inclusive? Everyone deserves forms that have options for them." On the right hand side is the Diversity ACT logo.

We all deserve forms that reflect the wide diversity of our community.

Yet too often, gender-diverse people and people with variations of sex characteristics have to provide incorrect information on forms because there is no option that accurately reflects them. Diversity ACT is calling on all organisations to ensure their forms are inclusive.

A little change on your forms can make a big difference.

Understanding sex and gender

To begin with, it’s important to understand that sex characteristics, sex and gender are different things. Here are some definitions adapted from the ABS Standard for Sex, Gender, Variations of Sex Characteristics and Sexual Orientation Variables.

Sex characteristics

Sex characteristics are observable things like chromosomes, hormones and reproductive organs. While most people are born with sex characteristics that conform to medical norms for female or male bodies, some are born with variations of sex characteristics. These can include a wide spectrum of variations in genitals, hormones, chromosomes and/or reproductive organs.

Sex

A person’s sex is typically based upon the sex characteristics observed and recorded at birth or infancy, but can change over the course of their lifetime and may differ from their sex recorded at birth.

Gender

Gender is a social and cultural concept. It is about social and cultural differences in identity, expression and experience as a man, woman or non-binary person. 

  • A cisgender (cis) person is one whose gender aligns with the sex assigned to them at birth.
  • A transgender (trans) person is one whose gender is different to their sex recorded at birth.
  • Non-binary is an umbrella term describing gender identities that are not exclusively men or women. It encompasses a range of other terms people may use for their gender, including but not limited to genderfluid, agender and genderqueer.
  • Gender diversity is an umbrella term used to describe gender identities that demonstrate a diversity of expression beyond the binary framework.
Do you manage forms? Here’s how you can make them more inclusive

Collecting data in an LGBTQIA+-inclusive way can take a bit of thought, but here are some starting steps.

Questions on sex and gender

  • Think about whether you really need to ask for a person’s sex or gender. Asking for these details is often done out of habit rather than necessity. Although you might want this information for marketing or demographic analysis, is it necessary for you to run your organisation?
  • Also, remember there is a difference between sex and gender: sex is typically based upon the sex characteristics observed and recorded at birth or infancy, whereas gender encompasses a person’s identities, expressions and societal roles. 
  • If you don’t need this information, get rid of the questions to shorten your forms and reduce data storage, or at least make them optional rather than mandatory.
  • If you decide you do need this information, consider explaining your reasons on your forms. This could reduce the likelihood of any negative experiences for people who have been marginalised because of their gender or sex characteristics. You could also consider whether you only need to collect this information once rather than on every interaction, and include content on your form about how you will protect this information.
  • If you do need this information, here are some options to structure your questions, which align with broader Australian standards:
    • What was [your/Person’s name/their] sex recorded at birth?
      •  Male
      •  Female
      •  Another term (please specify)
    • Were  [you/Person’s name/they] born with a variation in sex characteristics?
      • Yes
      • No
      • Unsure/Do not wish to disclose
    • How [do/does] [you/Person’s name/they] describe [your/their] gender?
      •  Man
      •  Woman
      •  Non-binary person
      •  [I/They] use a different term (please specify)

Titles

Many businesses are getting rid of title fields altogether these days, given they are no longer used as much. If you really want to keep it, there is a gender-neutral title, ‘Mx’, that you could include.

Pronouns

While looking at changing your forms, you could also consider providing a pronouns field so you and your staff know to use the correct language about your client or customer.

If you would like more information about these definitions and how to make your forms gender-inclusive, here are some resources:

You can also get training from local community service organisations A Gender Agenda, Meridian, Sexual Health and Family Planning ACT (SHFPACT) and the ACT Safe & Inclusive Schools Initiative.

Have you seen a form that needs improvement?

Let the organisations know. Chances are they just haven’t realised they weren’t being inclusive.

We have prepared an email template to make contacting them easier

If you’re not up to doing that, let us know about it and we can send the email on your behalf.

Can you spread the word?

Share our campaign with your networks!

We’ve prepared some resources including images and text you can use on social media, or you can create your own. Just make sure to use the hashtag #InclusiveForms and, if there is room, #CheckboxForMe and #QueerIsAnOption.

Social media images

An image with header text "Can you make your forms more inclusive" then a checklist with the actions "Step 1: Review your forms. Step 2: Remove unnecessary fields and update options. Step 3: We all celebrate.". At the bottom of the image is the Diversity ACT logo and the text "#InclusiveForms #CheckboxForMe #QueerIsAnOption". In the background, there are photographs of a diverse range of people.
An image with header text "Can you make your forms more inclusive". A person filling is filling out a form on their phone that is not inclusive. There is text that says "Everyone deserves forms that have options for them." At the bottom of the image is the Diversity ACT logo and the text "#InclusiveForms #CheckboxForMe #QueerIsAnOption".

Instagram

Let’s make all forms inclusive for gender-diverse people and people with variations of sex characteristics. Find out more about @DiversityACT’s #InclusiveForms campaign at diversityact.org.au/advocacy/inclusive-forms/

#CheckboxForMe #QueerIsAnOption

Facebook

Can you make your forms more inclusive?

We all deserve forms that reflect the wide diversity of our community. Yet too often, gender-diverse people and people with variations of sex characteristics have to provide incorrect information on forms because there is no option that accurately reflects them. 

@Diversity.ACT calls on all organisations to ensure their forms are inclusive of all sexes and genders. A little change in your forms can make a big difference in a person’s life.

Find out more at https://diversityact.org.au/advocacy/inclusive-forms/

#InclusiveForms #CheckboxForMe #QueerIsAnOption

Twitter

Can you make your forms more inclusive? We all deserve forms that reflect the wide diversity of our community. Find out more: diversityact.org.au/advocacy/inclusive-forms/

@DiversityACT #InclusiveForms #CheckboxForMe #QueerIsAnOption

Email signature block

Web banner

Congratulations to these organisations!

The great businesses and organisations below have committed to updating their forms and/or data collection to be more inclusive. Let’s give them some love!