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FAQs on Gender Identity, Gender Expression and Sexual Orientation Data Collection

What is happening?

Students now have the option to voluntarily self-identify and update their sexual orientation, sex assigned at birth, gender identity, and gender expression through the MyTritonLink portal.

How will UC San Diego use my responses?

Data collected on gender identity, gender expression and sexual orientation will provide UC San Diego with meaningful population data necessary for providing resources and other student support services (e.g., scholarships and themed housing). These data will also enable UC San Diego to develop curricular and co-curricular offerings that reflect students’ diverse perspectives, and that promote a safe and welcoming learning environment for all students. 

How are the data collected protected?

All collected data are protected, especially data of a sensitive nature. Significant safeguards are in place to ensure only those with a legitimate need have access to the data.  For more information about student records, go to

Why is UC San Diego collecting data pertaining to gender identity, gender expression and sexual orientation?

On October 8, 2011, Governor Jerry Brown signed Assembly Bill 620, which includes a request that UC provide the opportunity for students, faculty, and staff to report their sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression on any forms used to collect demographic data.  


In September 2014, UC President Janet Napolitano formed the President’s Advisory Council on LGBT Students, Faculty, and Staff, which is comprised of faculty, LGBT Center staff, students, and community experts. They were charged with making the UC system a gold standard for LGBT issues, and to provide recommendations for the implementation of AB 620 by collecting data on gender identity, gender expression and sexual orientation through the admission application.  


Providing the LGBTQIA+ community with the option to self-identify supports the University’s priorities of creating an inclusive and welcoming campus environment across the UC system. Including these questions on the application will signal to applicants that UC is an inclusive environment and that the LGBTQIA+ community is part of it. As with all other demographic questions on the admission application, providing gender identity, gender expression and sexual orientation data will be voluntary, optional, and as required by law, not impact admission decisions.

What is the wording of the gender identity, gender expression and sexual orientation questions on the social identities tab on TritonLink?

Gender Identity
  • How do you describe yourself? (Mark one answer)
  • Male
  • Female
  • Genderqueer/Gender Nonconforming
  • Trans Male/Trans Man
  • Trans Female/Trans Woman
  • Different Identity (Self Identify _______)

Sexual Orientation

  • Do you consider yourself to be (mark one answer)
  • Heterosexual or straight
  • Gay or lesbian
  • Bisexual
  • Not listed above (please specify) __________
Sex assigned at birth
  • What sex were you assigned at birth, such as on an original birth certificate? (Mark one answer)
  • Male
  • Female

Gender Expression

A person’s appearance, style, dress, or mannerisms (such as the way they walk or talk) may affect the way people think of them.  On average, how do you think other people at school would describe your appearance, style, dress or mannerisms?  (Mark on answer.)

  • Mostly feminine
  • Somewhat feminine
  • Equally feminine and masculine
  • Somewhat masculine
  • Mostly masculine

How were the gender identity questions developed?

The Transgender Health Advocacy Coalition in Philadelphia, PA developed the two-step question protocol for gender identity data collection in 1997. The Center of Excellence for Transgender Health and UC San Francisco began advocating the use of the two-step protocol in 2007, and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention adopted it in 2011. The two-step method was also cognitively tested by two research teams as part of UCLA's Williams Institute’s research on best practices to identify transgender people and other gender minorities through population-based surveys.

Why is the gender identity measure comprised of two questions?

The two-step question protocol for gender identity data collection involves first asking the respondent’s current gender identity, followed by a second question that asks the respondent to state their sex assigned a birth. Together, these questions help in identifying transgender and other gender minority respondents.

How was the gender expression question developed?

The Williams Institute at UCLA recommended the question regarding gender expression. The measure has been cognitively tested and is described in the Williams Institute’s best practices report, available on the Williams Institute website here.  Asked in the way that it is, the question, in conjunction with other responses allows researchers to assess socially assigned gender conformity/non-conformity.

How was the sexual orientation question developed?

The Williams Institute at UCLA recommended the question regarding sexual orientation after a five-year study of sexual orientation measures. The question has been thoroughly tested and is currently in use in the National Health Interview Survey (NHIS), the California Health Interview Survey (CHIS), and other state-level surveys. In keeping with approaches employed by NHIS and CHIS, respondents are provided a space to self-identify if the available answer options do not suit them.

What if I am a student who is just beginning to understand my gender identity, gender expression and/or sexual orientation?

All of the data collected is on a voluntary basis and not required. Students questioning issues related to sexual orientation, gender expression, and/or gender identity can seek support through Counseling and Psychological Services(CAPS), Residence Life, Dean of Students Affairs Offices, and the LGBT Resource Center.

Who are the authorized campus officials who have access to this data?

The Registrar is the custodian of all student records, and this information resides in this area.  Campus officials who access this data would include the Registrar and their designees, the Director of San Diego's LGBT Resource Center, and campus Institutional Research personnel who use the data in aggregate to provide official reports regarding enrollment, etc.  Gender identity, gender expression and sexual orientation data is available to campus officials who utilize sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression to guide decisions and allocate resources in their service to students, such as housing officials and academic advisors.

What is the definition of the gender identity and sexual orientation terms used in the data collection questions?

The following are the definitions as set by the University of California Office of the President: 


  • Bisexual – A person whose primary sexual and affectional orientation is toward people of the same and other genders, or toward people regardless of their gender.  

  • Gay – A sexual and affectional orientation toward people of the same gender.  

  • Gender – A social construct used to classify a person as a man, woman, or some other identity.  

  • Gender Expression – How one expresses oneself, in terms of dress, mannerisms, and/or behaviors that society characterizes as “masculine” or “feminine.”  

  • Gender Non-Conforming – People who do not subscribe to gender expressions or roles expected of them by society.  

  • Gender Queer – A person’s whose gender identity and/or gender expression falls outside of the dominant social norm for their assigned sex, is beyond genders, or is some combination of them  

  • Heterosexual/Straight – A sexual orientation in which a person feels physically and emotionally attracted to people of a gender other than their own.  

  • Lesbian – A woman whose primary sexual and affectional orientation is toward people of the same gender.  

  • Transgender – Used most often as an umbrella term; some commonly held definitions: 1) someone whose gender identity or expression does not fit within dominant group social constructs of assigned sex and gender; 2) a gender outside of the man/woman binary; 3) having no gender or multiple genders.  

  • Trans Man/Trans Male – A female-to-male (FTM) transgender person who was assigned female at birth, but whose gender identity is that of a man.  

  • Trans Woman/Trans Female – A male-to-female (MTF) transgender person who was assigned male at birth, but whose gender identity is that of a woman.