Guidelines on Asking Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Questions

For all our programs, the Mayor’s Office of Housing and Community Development (MOHCD) asks for gender identity and sexual orientation to better serve the LGBTQ community. We want to identify how people are being served, and if there are any gaps. Ultimately, we want to track improvements in access over time

Starting July 1, 2017, MOHCD changed the way we ask about gender, as well as sexual orientation. We had been collecting this information, but have updated our policy based on guidelines by the Department of Public Health.

The Department of Public Health created these questions with expert guidance and community feedback. The following departments will use these questions, PDF iconper City policy.

  • Public Health
  • Human Services
  • Aging & Adult Services
  • Children, Youth and Their Families
  • Homelessness and Supportive Housing

Sex and Gender Identity Questions

  1. What is your gender? (check one that best describes your current gender identity.)
    Genderqueer/Gender Non-binary
    Trans Female
    Trans Male
    Not listed. Please specify

Gender identity is someone's understanding of their own gender, or the gender that they identify with.

Sexual Orientation Question

  • How would you describe your sexual orientation or sexual identity? (Check one)
    Gay/Lesbian/Same-Gender Loving
    Not listed. Please specify:
    Decline to Answer

Sexual orientation is the enduring pattern in the gender(s) to whom a person is sexually or romantically attracted. This question should only be asked of adults 18 years and older. The answer should come from the respondent directly.

Examples of Use

MOHCD uses the guidelines slightly differently depending on the form. You can see examples on both the PDF icon2018-19 Family Income Verification Form - English  (page 1) and the (page 11).



Translations of the gender identity and sexual orientation questions are available in Chinese, Spanish, and Filipino.

PDF iconSOGI Questions Translated (Chinese-Spanish-Filipino)


Data privacy is important to MOHCD. We understand how sensitive it is, especially for gender identity and sexual orientation. We won't share or display any publicly identifiable data.

Sex and Gender Definitions:

  • Female - the behavioral, cultural, biological, or psychological traits typically associated with females.
  • Male - the behavioral, cultural, biological, or psychological traits typically associated with males.
  • Genderqueer/Gender Non-binary - two of many reclaimed gender identities among persons who do not subscribe to conventional gender distinctions; may feel their gender as neither, both, or some fluctuating combination of male/masculine and female/feminine genders.
  • Trans Female - transgender women, transfeminine, or transwomen, sometimes referred to ‘male-to-female or MTFs.
  • Trans Male - transgender men, transmasculine, or transmen, sometimes referred to as female-to-male or FTMs.
  • If not listed, please specify_______ - this category provides options for people to state their specific transgender identity (or identities), as well as an “additional category” which will help clarify the many possible transgender identities.
  • Declined/Not Stated - this category allows the provider to mark “Declined/Not Stated” if the individual did not indicate a sex or gender identity.
  • Question Not Asked - this category allows the provider to mark ‘Question Not Asked’ if the sex or gender question was not asked.