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    Why California’s SOGI Data Matters

    By Pau Crego–

    Senate Bill 957: SOGI (Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity) Data Collection, an important bill for the future of LGBTQI+ Californians, is currently making its way through the California State Senate. This bill, authored by Senator Scott Wiener and co-sponsored by Equality California and the California LGBTQ Health and Human Services Network, intends to close gaps from previous SOGI-related legislation.

    Actionable and culturally-appropriate SOGI data collection and reporting is relevant for LGBTQI+ people for multiple reasons. Firstly, most large-scale studies, such as the U.S. Census, do not capture LGBTQI+ identities; given this dearth of data, state and local laws mandating SOGI data collection and reporting are one of few ways to gather information on the needs of LGBTQI+ communities. This data can then be leveraged to better understand, document, and address the issues impacting our communities, such as inequities in access to healthcare, experiences of discrimination, and specific health outcomes affecting LGBTQI+ people.

    California State Senator Scott Wiener convened a press conference in March 2022, announcing legislation to support trans kids and their parents

    Secondly, when SOGI data is collected and analyzed meaningfully, it can be used by advocates and decision-makers to allocate resources that will address the inequities and health needs we face. Simply put: without the research to show the need for specific health interventions, it is unlikely that decision-makers will be willing to spend money on those interventions.

    Lastly, collecting SOGI data long term can shed light on trends and changes over time, allowing resource allocation to adapt as needs shift.

    1 - Seal of the California Senate.png

    SB 957 comes on the heels of a report by the State Auditor that evaluated the California Department of Public Health’s (CDPH) progress in collecting, reporting, and using SOGI data as mandated by law since 2015. The 2023 State Auditor’s report—originally titled The California Department of Public Health: It Has Not Collected and Reported Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Data as State Law Intended—found that SOGI data in California has been collected inconsistently, thus resulting in inadequate data on the health status of LGBTQI+ Californians.

    Specifically, the report pointed to various implementation gaps, ranging from lack of consistent policies in how SOGI data should be collected and reported, to lack of guidance from the state to local jurisdictions, to most demographic forms excluding SOGI data questions (only 17 forms were found to collect complete SOGI data, out of 129 forms that collect demographic data overall).

    After eight years of almost nonexistent SOGI data collection and reporting at the state level, SB 957 will amend existing law to require that the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) collect SOGI data from third-party entities (including local health jurisdictions) on any forms or electronic data unless prohibited by federal or state law.

    This bill will also require the CDPH to update the public and the legislature every year on its efforts to collect, analyze, and report SOGI data; improve services or program outcomes for underserved LGBTQI+ communities; and implement the recommendations from the audit report. Hopefully, if SB 957 passes, we will soon have accurate, meaningful, and actionable SOGI data to better understand and address the unique health needs of LGBTQI+ Californians.

    To follow the progression of SB 957, visit

    Pau Crego (he/him) is a queer and trans immigrant who has worked towards equity for trans and LGBTQI+ communities for almost two decades, both in the San Francisco Bay Area, and in Spain where he is originally from. His advocacy has included direct services, technical assistance, training and education, program design, and policy change. Crego worked at the Office of Transgender Initiatives (OTI) from 2017–2023, most recently serving as the Office’s Executive Director. He is also faculty in the Health Education Department at City College of San Francisco, and a published author and translator in the field of public health.

    Musings on Trans Liberation
    Published on April 18, 2024