ONS could drop gender question in next census

The question ‘what is your sex’ could be scrapped from the next census for fear of offending transsexual and ‘non-binary’ people, it has emerged.

A report by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) suggests that asking people to declare their sex is “irrelevant, unacceptable and intrusive, particularly to trans participants”.

The document even states that meeting the needs of trans respondents should take precedence over “data requirements”.

‘Gender identity’

The report, released quietly last month, examined three question designs for the next census.

It considered the 2011 census question: “What is your sex? 1. Male 2. Female”, a hybrid question introducing a third category of “Other” and a two-step question asking people about their sex and their “gender identity” separately.

The report concluded that none of these questions are fit for purpose, stating: “We recommend that none of the three designs be used in the 2021 Census.

“Even if it is not possible to meet data requirements, change should be made to better meet the needs of trans respondents”.

‘Potentially dangerous’

The ONS report is part of ongoing research into ‘gender identity’ and was based on four focus groups and 18 interviews with members of the public.

It describes members of the public who are not transsexual as “cisgender” – a term popular with the trans lobby.

Responding to the report, Laura Perrins, co-editor of The Conservative Woman website, said: “This proposal is potentially dangerous. It is important to know how many women there are of child-bearing age to plan maternity services.

“One of the markers of a modern nation state is functioning bureaucracy that keeps accurate statistics. This move threatens this.”


And Chris McGovern, of the Campaign for Real Education, said: “For historians, census statistics are a major source for information about the past.

“For the present government, they are important for understanding the sort of society we are living in. If one is going to have an accurate picture of social history or indeed contemporary society, one does need to know the gender balance.

“We have capitulated to political correctness and we are no longer interested in hard data – we are more interested in protecting people’s feelings.”

ONS response

Responding to media reports on its research, the ONS said it is “an update on research ONS has been undertaking on potentially collecting information on gender identity as well data on sex”.

It added: “ONS has yet to formulate its recommendations for the 2021 Census”.

Any proposed changes to the census will be contained in a Government white paper, which will then go out to consultation.

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