At Spectra, we are pleased to see the inclusion of trans status and sexual orientation as optional questions on the 2021 census. However, we are aware there has been a lot of misinformation and confusion regarding these questions, as well as the question about sex.
For ease of access, we have highlighted below the key take away points that dispel any of the myths that are floating around:
- Filling in the census is safe for people, and helpful to the services that support them.
- The census is sealed for 100 years. No individual can be outed or be in trouble for any answer they give to questions about their sex, gender, or sexual orientation, (or anything else) within their lifetime.
- You do NOT need a Gender Recognition Certificate to accurately record your sex and/or gender on the census. No one should be able to access or pressure the way you fill in your census questions.
If you are concerned about being outed and need to fill in the census response separately from your household in order not to out yourself, this can be done easily by getting an individual access code here: https://census.gov.uk/en/request/access-code/individual/
Others in your household will not know that you have done this.
If you need help filling out the form there is support available here: https://census.gov.uk/help/languages-and-accessibility
If you are concerned about media reports on guidance for trans people
National research like the census is important because it helps us better understand how some groups of people may be disadvantaged when compared to others.
The 2021 census features a question which asks: “What is your sex?” for which there are two possible answers: female and male. There is a separate question about gender identity with an open text field.
It is unfortunate that the sex question still does not acknowledge intersex or non-binary people. However, if you are a trans woman or a man, it is still helpful for you to answer the question in a way that reflects your lived experience. This will be useful in looking at how trans people might experience sexual inequality.
On Tuesday 9th March a judge ordered the Office for National Statistics (who are responsible for the census) to amend the guidance for the sex question.
The guidance previously read: “If you are considering how to answer, use the sex recorded on one of your legal documents such as a birth certificate, gender recognition certificate, or passport”.
The guidance now reads: “If you are considering how to answer, use the sex recorded on your birth certificate or Gender Recognition Certificate.”
However, this may change again following a court case next week.
Regardless, this guidance does not actually prevent trans people from writing down their female or male lived sex in response to the sex question, even if you have not changed your birth certificate.
For the sake of collecting accurate data, we therefore encourage all trans people to respond to the census in a way that best reflects your personal experience of sex as well as gender.
If you are trans and/or non-binary and need further support
We want to emphasize that we are here for trans and non-binary communities and provide a range of mental health and wellbeing services. You can find information about our services, including mentoring and social groups here: https://spectra-london.org.uk/trans-gender-services/
Trans people are who they say they are, trans rights are human rights and no judge can erase us! We stand together as a community and amplify trans voices. Finally, if you wish reach-out you can always contact us at: email@example.com.