2021 census could make declaring your gender optional

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Citizens could opt out of stating their gender when they complete the next census in 2021, Office for National Statistics revealed yesterday.

The ONS stated that in 2021’s national survey, the gender question could become voluntary due to claims that it discriminates against transgender people.

In a report released in September, the ONS said the census question was “considered to be irrelevant, unacceptable and intrusive, particularly to trans participants, due to asking about sex rather than gender”.

According to The Sunday Times, the ONS recommended that the question “should not be mandatory, for the benefit of particularly intersex and non-binary people who cannot choose male or female as a reflection of their current sex or gender”.

But the option to add a third choice of “other” was rejected by researchers, carried out by Ipsos Mori, as “irrelevant and intrusive” and thought to integrate trans people into a category of their own.

A different option to have two separate questions – one about biological sex and the other about gender identity – was also rejected by the researchers.

Of 1,085 responses to Ipsos Mori’s consultation, 54 respondents raised the question of gender identity, with 14 specifically requesting that gender identity be included as a separate topic.

The survey, which takes place every ten years, saw over four million participants opt out of answering the question: ‘What is your religion?’

Sophie Gaston, deputy director of think tank Demos, tweeted: “Can we pls sound alarms on this?! Census is an integral tool for policy-making & reducing accuracy of gender-based data will set UK back. France’s institutional ‘blindness to race’ means impossible to monitor stats on disadvantage.”

“Would make harder to advance women’s rights.”

The ONS told The Independent that no decision on the questions for 2021 had yet been made.

“The document referred to is an update on research ONS has been undertaking on potentially collecting information on gender identity as well data on sex,” a spokesperson said.

“It does not contain proposed census questions and suggests further research is required. ONS has yet to formulate its recommendations for the 2021 census. Once it has done so, the Government will bring forward a White Paper, which will include the census questions.”

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