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Times article: Question about sex to be voluntary for next census

(42 Posts)
theendisnotnigh Sun 08-Oct-17 09:36:01

For our next national census (compulsory to complete for everyone) it is proposed to make the question about your sex voluntary - in case it offends those who are. So we won't know how many men / women there are in the country. Apparently it's "irrelevant, unacceptable and intrusive" to have to state your sex !!
Article below:

*The UK is to become one of the first countries in the world not to require its citizens to let officialdom know what sex they are.
The Office for National Statistics (ONS) is proposing to make the sex question in the next census voluntary, after protests that it discriminates against transgender and other non-binary people.
The change will leave Britain without an accurate figure for the number of men and women living in the country.
Four million people declined to answer the only voluntary question in the last census: “What is your religion?”
The proposal was greeted with horror last night by some feminists, who see it as part of a growing trend to remove all mention of the biological female sex.
Germaine Greer, the writer and academic, said biological women were “losing out everywhere”.
She added: “I’m sick and tired of this. We keep arguing that women have won everything they need to win. They haven’t even won the right to exist.”
The survey takes place every 10 years, with the next due in 2021.
Stephanie Davies-Arai, a feminist activist, said: “Women’s biological sex is being erased and that terrifies me. Once you stop gathering information, that skews everything for women.”
In a report slipped out last month, the ONS said the existing census question, which requires respondents to choose whether they are male or female, was “considered to be irrelevant, unacceptable and intrusive, particularly to trans participants, due to asking about sex rather than gender”.
Another option — to add a third choice of “other” — was rejected as “irrelevant and intrusive”, with the “other” category “thought to homogenise trans people and differentiate them from the rest of society”.
The final option, a two-step design with separate sex and gender identity questions, was again rejected.
The report instead recommended that the existing census 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”.
It also said that any other questions on sex or gender should be voluntary.
It is a criminal offence not to complete the census, or to give false information, with more than 100 people convicted in 2011*

ridiculoussingle Sun 08-Oct-17 09:41:23

So it's offensive to ask your sex, but not offensive to ignore your sex?!?!

SummerKelly Sun 08-Oct-17 09:49:24

The comments below were all along the lines of this is nuts though. Surely it can’t happen?

theendisnotnigh Sun 08-Oct-17 10:32:00

The below the line comments are just what is needed - it's when people realise just how insidious the transgender agenda is and most importantly, how it works against the interests of the majority.

fruitlovingmonkey Sun 08-Oct-17 10:37:52

I'm so glad the Times is reporting what is happening. My subscription was money well spent.
I'm agog about this though. I don't know why I'm surprised, but I didn't think we were quite at this level of lunacy.
It will be interesting to watch the reaction, given that they are also erasing males with this gesture to trans people.

BigDeskBob Sun 08-Oct-17 10:48:22

If sex is irrelevant, what information is? Why does the state need to know my age, name, occupation and who lives with me?

Ereshkigal Sun 08-Oct-17 10:49:15

Exactly! Why should anyone answer any of it truthfully?

Anlaf Sun 08-Oct-17 11:07:13

It's bollocks. AIBU thread here www.mumsnet.com/Talk/am_i_being_unreasonable/3054492-To-think-it-might-be-useful-to-know-how-many-men-and-women-we-have-in-this-country

Greypaw Sun 08-Oct-17 11:19:38

It raises some interesting questions, this. Presumably (because that’s all I’ve got to go on), the people who have made this decision believe it’s not important to have this information, so the question is, what is the census FOR exactly? Is it purely to gain a snapshot of demographics once every ten years and that’s it? Or do they actually use that information for things like service provision?

If it’s the latter, then this information is obviously important for things like healthcare and pensions planning and can’t be left out, unless the government can obtain that information from somewhere else. Where would that be? Again you’d presume this can’t be done from birth records because that only gives information about people who are born in this country and not who actually inhabits it and therefore may use services. I’d guess that GP surgeries hold the information, but I’d also guess that not everyone is registered with a GP.

Anyway. Hoping someone, somewhere has got this covered...

Anlaf Sun 08-Oct-17 11:54:03

Their report here Greypaw - I confess I have not read it all yet www.ons.gov.uk/methodology/classificationsandstandards/measuringequality/genderidentity/qualitativeresearchongenderidentityphase1summaryreport

GPs are not permitted to discuss or disclose pre-transition status of patients, so that data source is out. this thread

Census-es (sp?) are used for all sorts of government planning - they give you a full count of the country which you can then use along with other smaller data sources to estimate (say) how many women in managerial positions in 2016. I know they are used in some corporate planning, would be interested to know if they are also used in e.g. medical studies or academia.

The ONS additional data sources are smaller surveys of individuals/households which cover things like Labour Force info, Household living conditions, health....

The thing that really concerns me is that they also propose to review the mandatory sex question in their other national surveys, given the "unacceptability" of the sex question

I can see a scenario where you start to see skew in the National Crime Survey stats for the sex of victims (or even perpetrators) of crime, or in the proportion of women in managerial positions,....

I think I saw that they've assumed 1% of people are trans/nb in their planning. As a younger person I would have enthusiastically refused to give my sex in stats, although was never trans/nonbinary. I thought acknowledging I was a woman would lead to further oppression oh bless

<data dump ends/>

DonkeySkin Mon 09-Oct-17 14:49:08

It's becoming clear that the overarching goal of the trans movement is to extinguish sex as a legal and ontological category. This has extremely sinister implications for women and indeed the whole of society. It's an astonishing, sweeping goal that is totalitarian in both nature and scope, and is in fact even more ambitious than attempts by totalitarian regimes to erase and rewrite the history of entire nations, such as the Khmer Rouge with their Year Zero,* since human sexual biology is such an immediately observable and ubiquitous phenomenon.

What's even more astonishing is how easily lawmakers and other policy makers are going along with it, as if passing laws and making policy that make it impossible to describe or legislate on the basis of sex is simply a minor adjustment of etiquette.

*Wikipedia on Year Zero:
The idea behind Year Zero is that all culture and traditions within a society must be completely destroyed or discarded and a new revolutionary culture must replace it, starting from scratch. All history of a nation or people before Year Zero is deemed largely irrelevant, as it will ideally be purged and replaced from the ground up.

Ereshkigal Mon 09-Oct-17 14:58:45

Great post, Donkeyskin. Might be worth repeating it on the AIBU thread about this?

parkednearby Mon 09-Oct-17 15:02:52

Whatever next? All this is getting truly bonkers.

Anyway, surely it isn't beyond the intelligence of the census people to put three options/boxes on the form:

"male"
"female"
and
"prefer not to say/haven't made my mind up yet/don't believe in the concept of sex or gender/whatever the hell else they've decided they want to be called this week"

OlennasWimple Mon 09-Oct-17 15:06:04

This is scary stuff. As usual, Germaine Greer has it spot on.

Why is it not important any more to know how many men and how many women live in the UK? Why not add in another question about gender presentation as well as sex?

Though presumably in the real world most people will answer this question truthfully, and the small number of transpeople / non-binary / don't want to answer any question they don't have to won't skew the data in a statistically significant way

IndominusRex Mon 09-Oct-17 15:29:27

Just everything Donkey said. Nail on head!

Terrylene Mon 09-Oct-17 15:37:37

They had some gender journalist on Today R4 this morning blethering on about Gender Identity and being Assigned Gender at birth, with no questions asked. I am not answering such questions as I do not have a Gender Identity that I Identify with and nor was I Assigned a gender nor anything when I was born hmm (life was so simple in the 1960s [sigh] )

Terrylene Mon 09-Oct-17 15:58:37

Found her - Jane Fae - not entirely and independent voice there then. No wonder BBC gets slated about bias............

DonkeySkin Mon 09-Oct-17 16:18:54

Thanks Eresh, I've done so!

Lancelottie Mon 09-Oct-17 16:19:37

Ah. Is it compulsory for ALL independent advice on gender issues to be provided by Y-chromosomed-persons, because they do wimmining so much better than mere females?

HouseholdWords Mon 09-Oct-17 16:19:38

Grrrr, I heard that as I was making breakfast & had to race to Twitter to point out that we are not "assigned a gender at birth" we are noted as either male or female (apart from the 1% or so intersex which is generally not diagnosed until later) and that gender is a socially constructed role.

But to do her justice, Jane Fae did say that she thought it was very necessary to have information about sex of the population in the census. But that if the gov't needed information about trans people, the census could ask people's sex, and then ask if their gender id was the same as that "assigned" [grrrrr] at birth.

Which seemed very sensible.

But AS USUAL a trans person is asked rather than a woman.

I'm old enough to remember the activism that went on about medical/health planning for women - pointing out that women's biology/physiology was not identical with men's - that the male body is not the default human body and that we may need to treat women with heart disease differently from men, etc etc etc.

The parallel is with ethnicity/race: there needs to be specific provision for black British people, especially men, around sickle cell anaemia. So we might think it would be useful to have an idea about people's ethnic heritage. And so on.

It's about knowledge & data, so we can plan, & so we can look after people.

Terrylene Mon 09-Oct-17 16:23:21

I was doing a heart health survey this morning on Menopause Matters. Women are still more likely to die from a first heart attack than men [sigh].

HouseholdWords Mon 09-Oct-17 16:27:53

Yes, because medicos don't recognise the symptoms in women.

WOMEN ARE NOT MEN!!

sorry for shouting .... But this is why we need granular data: about sex, about ethnicity, and all sorts of stuff.

Ttbb Mon 09-Oct-17 16:28:40

Ridiculous. Both questions should be mandatory. The state is so large in Britain that it's ability to operate smoothly will be compromised, particularly if a lot of people refuse to provide sex.

Terrylene Mon 09-Oct-17 17:09:35

I don't see why they can't ask sex (ie what is on Birth Certificate) and Gender Identity if you have one separately.

Anlaf Mon 09-Oct-17 18:38:04

The ONS tested 3 options for the question:

sex (m/f) (unchanged from previous census)
"cisgender" testers had no problem
Trans participants expressed confusion about the subject of the “Sex” question; either thinking the “Sex” question referred to biological sex, or that it was indirectly asking about gender identity. Either way, they expressed negativity about the question and confusion about how to answer....[this q] was considered to be irrelevant, unacceptable and intrusive, particularly to trans participants, due to asking about sex rather than gender. The lack of response options for intersex and non-binary people could make it difficult to answer

sex (m/f/other) "allowing varied interpretation of sex or gender"
caused trans participants to be unsure whether they were being asked about their biological sex (when “Other” would be intersex) or their gender (when “Other” would be open to them). This led to inconsistencies in responses.
"cisgender" testers had no problem

two Stage: sex (m/f/other) and gender identity (how you think about gender identity: m/f/in another way)
These q's led to differences of opinion as to the use of the word “identity”. There were cisgender and trans participants who did not understand why there were two questions

So, given that feedback, you can see why they have extended their project. Noone knows the difference between sex and gender.

AFAIK no intersex.people tested this, although they are mentioned as being a reason for the change, nor are intersex groups mentioned in the stakeholder workshop to kick off the project.

Attendees at that workshop did include Gender Identity Research and Education Society (GIRES), Stonewall, Mermaids

No womens groups in any consultation I've seen so far

I do absolutely support trans people being included in appropriate statistics, btw. Just not at the expense of counting male and female sexed people (and intersexed!)

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