Sex in the Census
The census is unique. Every ten years it collects data to create a complete picture of the nation.
The questions apply to everybody, and the individual answers are confidential for 100 years.
The census has always asked “What is your sex”?
Counting the number of male and female citizens is vital for planning public services and for measuring and remedying disadvantage and discrimination on the basis of sex.
The power to conduct the census is set by the Census Act of 1920.
The question about sex has not changed since then.
Whilst the sex question itself has not changed, in 2021 the Office for National Statistics (ONS) is guiding people to self-identify as male or female based on any “legal document” they choose.
They do not say which documents count. Currently a person’s passport can be changed with a doctor’s note. A student ID card can be changed on request, as can a patient’s NHS record.
The census is using gender self-ID in place of sex, and corrupting the data. The ONS guidance is not consistent with biological sex, nor the legal definition of sex, nor with data on sex across other parts of government, nor with historical records.
The ONS say that they will seek to harmonise the definition of sex across government statistics with their approach, even though the definition of sex hasn’t changed in law.
Sending a message through the census
Census night is Sunday 21 March 2021. We each have a legal requirement to take part.
We also each have an opportunity to register a protest and tell the Office of National Statistics that they should collect data on biological sex.
This matters because the census sets the standard for other data-collection exercises and we are already losing data and clarity on biological sex.
On Sunday 21 February we will launch a website with guidance on how to take simple action to take part in the census, whilst also sending a clear message to the ONS.