Gender Identity Initiative

Our Goal

The Gender Identity Initiative (GII) was created to identify and implement changes to MIT systems that will improve inclusive representation of gender identities while protecting individual privacy, enabling greater autonomy, and meeting legal requirements. This includes legal sex, gender identity, name, and pronouns.

Our Guiding Principles

The work of the GII is guided by five important principles, drawn from a 2022 NASEM report entitled Measuring Sex, Gender Identity, and Sexual Orientation. These principles are:

  1. Inclusiveness: People deserve to count and be counted.
  2. Precision: Use precise terminology that reflects the constructs of interest. 
  3. Autonomy: Respect identity and autonomy. 
  4. Parsimony: Collect only necessary data.
  5. Privacy: Use data in a manner that benefits respondents and respects their privacy and confidentiality.

Our Approach

The Gender Identity Initiative consists of a Working Group and a Steering Committee. The Working Group was formed in June 2022 and includes staff from key offices such as Admissions, Human Resources, Information Systems & Technology, Institute Community and Equity Office, Institutional Research, LBGTQ+ Services, Office of the General Counsel, and the Registrar’s Office, along with graduate and undergraduate student representatives. 

GII Steering Team:

  • Ramona Allen, Vice President for Human Resources
  • John Dozier, Institute Community and Equity Officer
  • Lauryn McNair: Assistant Dean of Intercultural Engagement for LBGTQ+, Women and Gender Services
  • Mark Silis, Vice President IS&T
  • Ian Waitz, Vice Chancello

GII Working Group:

  • Cal Gunnarson: Graduate student (Biological Engineering)
  • Peter Hayes: Registrar’s Office
  • Ariel Leitao Leonelli: Admissions Office
  • Libby Mahaffy: Human Resources
  • Lauryn McNair: Assistant Dean of Intercultural Engagement for LBGTQ+, Women and Gender Services
  • Rachel Ornitz: LBGTQ+ Employee Resource Group; Institute Community and Equity Office
  • George Roch: IS&T
  • Allison Romantz: Office of General Counsel
  • Jon Schwarz: MIT Institutional Research
  • Undergraduate student representative
  • Kate Trimble: Office of the Vice Chancellor

Given the complexity of MIT’s student and staff systems and the sensitivity of gender identity information, the GII will approach the project in phases, beginning with a careful examination of gender identity data. The Working Group will meet weekly over the summer to develop recommendations on the items below:

  • Preferred gender question format;
  • Where and when to ask– and not ask– about gender;
  • Data privacy protections;
  • Clear explanatory text for existing forms and questions;
  • Frequency of institutional review of terminology/question format;
  • Resources for community members and Departments, Labs, and Centers; and 
  • Next phase agenda items and timeline.

These recommendations will be presented for feedback and approval to the GII Steering Committee, composed of senior leaders from HR, ICEO, IS&T, and OVC, in late summer/early fall 2022.

 

Update on the WebSIS Gender Identity question

Based on community feedback and pending the Working Group’s recommendations, we have removed the previous gender identity question in WebSIS.

 

For Future Updates and More Information

As more details about the project become available, they will be posted here. If you have any comments, concerns, or ideas to share, please email us at giimit@mit.edu.

 


 

Frequently Asked Questions

 

How can MIT community members make changes to their identity information?

Information about name changes, gender changes, and MIT ID cards for students is available on the LBGTQ+ Services website (for MIT students) and in this downloadable HR resource (for MIT employees).

How can I report a gender-related issue with an MIT system? 

If you experience an issue or problem with an MIT system that is related to gender identity, you can email us at giimit@mit.edu.

Have you experienced or witnessed gender-based discrimination or harassment at MIT? 

Report the incident to the Institute Discrimination & Harassment Response Office (IDHR).

I’m a departmental administrator/faculty member/staff person and have questions about how I should collect and use gender identity data. Who can I ask?

Send an email to giimit@mit.edu, and we’ll either answer your question or route it to someone who can. We’re happy to help!

MIT student on laptop, wearing hijab, looking at screen

Other Resources

LBGTQ+ Services

With a primary focus on students, LBGTQ+ Services ensures a safe and supportive campus-wide community where students of diverse gender, romantic, and sexual identities are all welcomed as equals. Check out the trans resources page with tips for allies and other information for people to learn from and share.

Lesbian, Bisexual, Gay, Transgender, Queer (LBGTQ) Employee Resource Group

The LBGTQ Employee Resource Group promotes an inclusive community for lesbian, bisexual, gay, transgender and queer employees. They serve as a visible, accessible resource for LBGTQ-identified employees and their allies and provide LBGTQ-focused networking, educational, and social opportunities for the MIT community. They are open to all faculty and staff.

MIT’s Nondiscrimination Policy

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology is committed to the principle of equal opportunity in education and employment. The Institute prohibits discrimination against individuals on the basis of race, color, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, pregnancy, religion, disability, age, genetic information, veteran status, or national or ethnic origin in the administration of its educational policies, admissions policies, employment policies, scholarship and loan programs, and other Institute administered programs and activities; the Institute may, however, favor US citizens or residents in admissions and financial aid.