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Gender-Aware Guidelines and Standards for City of Boston Services

These guidelines serve to support the implementation of the Gender Inclusion Ordinance and components of the Chosen Name Amendment.

A person's gender and sexual identity can be tremendously important to their overall identity. These guidelines and standards support City staff who design and operate services, programs, and policies in the City of Boston. The goal is to provide more dignified experiences for residents, including those whose gender and sexual identities have historically not been recognized or supported by government agencies. 

In particular, we aim to support individuals whose gender and sexual identities have historically not been recognized or supported by their government. The guidelines and standards specify when and how to collect gender-identity data throughout government processes. Collecting the right amount of data in the right way will ensure that we deliver services equitably and effectively to people of all gender identities while protecting privacy and safety to the best of our ability.

Read the Full Gender Guidelines and Standards 


Government has played a part in creating harm by not recognizing diverse gender identities through our processes, especially as we collect information that misrepresents who people are. We also recognize that collecting information can increase risks of identification for vulnerable groups and create barriers to participation. Data can be a powerful tool to understand disparities and to drive equitable outcomes. But, embedding the collection of data into government programs can have negative consequences for the people those services and programs were intended to help in the first place. These consequences can be magnified when data collection is mandatory or tied to other Personally Identifying Information (PII).

The City delivers services to its constituents with the support of processes that create experiences for those constituents. These processes generate administrative data to reflect government processes, as well as other data that can be used to improve policies or programs. Our goal as a City is to provide affirming, dignified experiences for all constituents and our workforce as they interact with the City of Boston. 

Dive into the standards and guidelines to learn more.

Goals and high-level guidelines

Our guidelines have four goals:
  1. Define key terms public servants should understand related to gender identity
  2. Help departments think through when asking constituents about their gender identity is necessary and appropriate for delivering City services
  3. Provide standard language that departments should use when they’ve determined they need to ask constituents about their gender identity
  4. Align the standards in this document with state, federal, or other data systems that have limitations in how they record this data
high-level guidelines:

At its core, the City of Boston's standards around data collection for gender identity have two main guidelines:

  • Guideline 1: Only collect data when you need to collect it.
  • Guideline 2: Collect pronouns and chosen name when you first interact with another person.

To dig into more of the specifics, please review our full guidance.


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