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Gender identity representation in data collection: new approaches from Italy

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Istat (National Statistical Institute of Italy), in collaboration with Unar (National Antidiscrimination Office), is carrying out a project on "Labour discrimination against LGBT+ people and diversity policies implemented in enterprises" which started in 2018. It is characterized by a mixed method (quantitative-qualitative) and includes the direct collection of information from different target groups of LGBT+ people. The project includes three CAWI surveys based on respondents’ self-identification as LGBT+ people, and  carried out by a web self-completed questionnaire: a) in 2020-2021 a total survey of resident individuals (over 21,000) who, as of 1 January 2020, were or had been in Civil Union. The main results were published in 2022 (Istat, 2022). In Italy the union between persons of the same sex is regulated by a legal institution named Civil Union (since July 2016) which is different from marriage which is for different-sex couples alone; b) in 2022 a survey on LGB people who have never been in Civil Union (completed in May 2022). Istat tested for the first time the snowball technique RDS (Respondent Driving Sample), which afterwards opened to a convenience sample; c) a survey on trans and non-binary persons which is currently in progress. Specific questions on SOGIESC (sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression and sex characteristics) indicators were discussed, tested and analysed.  The aim of this article is to illustrate the Italian experience in surveying gender identity and gradually introducing other SOGIESC indicators in official statistics. It in depth illustrates indicators of sex and gender identity and tested with reference to the different target groups. Finally, it identifies the main challenges and offers some suggestions for improving- gender representation in data collection, and developing indicators of gender identity to be introduced in official surveys targeted to the whole population.