Advancing Equity in Accessibility and Travel Experiences: The Role of Gender and Identity

In 1993, Minnesota became the first U.S. state that amended its statutes to prohibit discrimination based on a person’s sexual orientation and gender identity. In transportation, Minnesota has allowed an “X” sex descriptor on driver’s licenses since 2018. However, studies still use sex, or the biological gender, to categorize people into male and female while investigating gender differences in travel behaviors and transport access. This ignores that the lived experiences can affect one’s gender identity internally and one’s behaviors and persona externally. Importantly, the difference in gender identify may also lead to quite distinct travel experiences and subjective well-being outcomes. This project will examine whether psychological, socially constructed gender may lead to distinct activity-travel patterns using survey data collected at individual levels. The project will use the 2019 Travel Behavior Inventory household surveys from Met Council and collect additional data in Greater Minnesota using smartphone survey app. The project will identify groups with gender-typical patterns (the personae) and relate these patterns to sex and other demographic, economic and social characteristics of each group (the context). The project will use the smartphone survey to compare the identified personae and reported identity, relate participants’ subjective well-being outcomes to the identified patterns, and investigate variations in these findings across urban, suburban, and rural areas in Minnesota. These findings can provide novel insights toward gender differences in transport needs and behavior patterns. The findings can also identify potential spatial disparities and marginalized communities.