Scots will not need to put their legal sex on the census next year, according to new guidance from the National Records of Scotland.
The new guidance states: “If you are transgender the answer you give can be different from what is on your birth certificate. You do not need a Gender Recognition Certificate (GRC).”
It adds: “A voluntary question about trans status or history will follow if you are aged 16 or over. You can respond as non-binary in that question.”
The document elaborates that an individual may use the sex displayed on their passport to answer the question on the census. However, sex stated on passports can be changed with no legal process.
In response, Professor Lindsay Paterson of Edinburgh University said the Scottish Government’s move was “very disappointing”.
It defies not only the legal ruling in England and Wales, but also the scientific understanding of sex as being a biological reality rather than a feeling.
He added that the guidance “seriously harms the census as a source of data for comparing men and women in Scotland.
“It defies not only the legal ruling in England and Wales, but also the scientific understanding of sex as being a biological reality rather than a feeling.”
A similar push across the rest of the UK was rejected earlier this year by the High Court, after a successful case from campaign group Fair Play for Women (FPFW).
The Office for National Statistics had sought to allow people to use their passport alongside birth certificates or Gender Recognition Certificates when giving their answer.
But FPFW successfully argued that only a birth certificate or Gender Recognition Certificate should be used, as a person’s sex could be changed on other documents without a formal legal process.
Dr Nicola Williams, from Fair Play for Women, welcomed the ruling and said it served as a warning to all public authorities that “you can’t just decide for yourselves what sex is”.