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Any academics: how do I tackle research re sex/gender

(38 Posts)
ahumanfemale Sat 01-Aug-20 19:02:47

Previously research would ask questions like:
Are you:
1. Male
2. Female

And that would be it.

Now it's more like a variation on the theme of:
What is your gender?
1. Man
2. Woman
3. Trans man
4. Trans woman
5. Other not listed.

Does anybody know of how to sidestep this? I would just like to ask what is your sex, but I don't think I will be able to do that.

OP’s posts: |
OhHolyJesus Sat 01-Aug-20 19:08:11

I'm not an academic and I agree with your original phrasing rather than having to bend to something that I think is utter nonsense, but my suggestion is including both questions, in that same order.

Gronky Sat 01-Aug-20 19:12:34

You could ask for 'sex assigned at birth' and 'gender identity' if you're really concerned about treading carefully.

Siablue Sat 01-Aug-20 19:12:41

What are you asking? I would ask what is your sex and what is your gender as two separate questions if relevant to health.

FWRLurker Sat 01-Aug-20 19:20:54

What is the sex on your original birth certificate (choose one)
Male:
Female:
Indeterminate / intersex / NA:
Prefer not to answer:

How do you identify your gender: _________ (free response)

To avoid woke attacks It would be worth Noting that you are doing this specifically to help understand How the intersection of multiple Vulnerable identities impact whatever it is you are studying.

FWRLurker Sat 01-Aug-20 19:23:21

Also I would add an asterisk saying that the first question is sometimes referred to as either the sex assigned at birth or the sex observed at birth.

RoBollox Sat 01-Aug-20 19:23:34

I would ask every question, in order, as stipulated in the Equality Act. So add in for example whether participants have a disability etc etc
Then you'll be able to disaggregate sex data. Follow it to the letter.
Disclaimer: Im not an academic. But this is how I'd do it.

Siablue Sat 01-Aug-20 19:34:40

RoBollox

I would ask every question, in order, as stipulated in the Equality Act. So add in for example whether participants have a disability etc etc
Then you'll be able to disaggregate sex data. Follow it to the letter.
Disclaimer: Im not an academic. But this is how I'd do it.

That is a very good idea. You could have an explanation that you are looking at protected characteristics and link to the EA.

Portnlemon Sat 01-Aug-20 20:00:36

Unless you are researching the labrynthine inner feelings of the trans world just ask male or female as:

1. anything else is irrelevant to any other subject in the world
2. Those upset you don't want to know about their inner trans feelings will not take part and that's such a tiny demographic it's no loss at all.

SomeDyke Sat 01-Aug-20 20:11:10

When (as a physical scientist/mathematician) I used to sit on one of my University Research Ethics Committees, I once pointed out that saying sex/gender given the current issues was not good enough. If they meant sex, they should ask for that. course, depends (not that I can recall now), if it was medics/biologists or social scientists/psychologists, and what precisely they wanted to know.

" I would just like to ask what is your sex, but I don't think I will be able to do that."
Why not? If some wokey discipline, I would expect they already have a standard form of include all six billion genders and don't offend anyone. If you mean sex, then you need to say that, in whatever way makes it clear you mean sex. I would find adding sex assigned at birth to a biologist etc to be misleading and frankly wrong.

Have a sex question and a gender identity question if you really need to, just to make clear you are distinguishing between the objective and the subjective.

FWRLurker Sat 01-Aug-20 20:53:04

Those upset you don't want to know about their inner trans feelings will not take part and that's such a tiny demographic it's no loss at all.

You would hope perhaps this would be so, but Unless you specify biological sex, and also ask about gender separately, a trans woman will check the “female” box by sex thus harming reliability of the data.

2 questions are In this age needed otherwise some respondents will answer “sex” with their gender identity.

ItsAllGoingToBeFine Sat 01-Aug-20 21:03:35

What is your research question?

Do you care about gender? If you are only interested in disaggregation by sex, then I would just ask sex at birth and explain why, and what sex means.

Presumably if you are doing a survey then you will also discuss potential weaknesses in the methodology, and one of those weaknesses will be respondents answering questions wrongly for whatever reason.

I also wouldn't ask about other protected characteristics unless relevant as you shouldn't be collecting personal data you don't need.

Also not an academic

Portnlemon Sat 01-Aug-20 21:07:55

Which is worse? A small population of males may respond as female and vice versa to your data gathering about a non trans subject or every data gathering exercise has to drag every one through the assigned at birth and gender identity farce as if it's in any way necessary to anything at all the vast majority of the time. It's an enormous irrelevance to most subjects.

IAintentDead Sat 01-Aug-20 21:48:21

Gronky Sat 01-Aug-20 19:12:34
You could ask for 'sex assigned at birth' and 'gender identity' if you're really concerned about treading carefully.

I am a woman. I don't have a gender identity. I am a woman
I wasn't assigned female at birth. I was observed female at birth.

A survey I was interested in (and who, from it's premise I think was interested in answers from people like me) asked which gender I identified as. I didn't bother with the survey. I am not interested in false statistics gained from asking irrelevant questions like that.

The second was one I am very interested in, this didn't ask the question until the end. It did, however, give the option 'other' which is what I opted for as I wasn't assigned a sex at birth. Despite my interest if this question had been asked at the beginning I would not have completed it.

I don't want statistics skewed by people identifying as the opposite sex. Options should be biological or on original birth certificate. This can be further divided/clarified beyond this if necessary but the first division should be biological.

I am not interested in any survey which div

IAintentDead Sat 01-Aug-20 21:49:12

otherwise it is pointless asking the question

it should just come down to 'Are you human?'

Aesopfable Sat 01-Aug-20 22:06:50

Are you a prostrate-haver?

Yes
No

Anotheronetwo Sat 01-Aug-20 22:15:48

I go with sex, then female/male/prefer not to say.

ahumanfemale Sat 01-Aug-20 22:19:07

Thank you for the responses. They're very helpful.

I've actually been stressing a huge amount about this question. More so, actually, than whether my research question will get approved - because that I can go back and forwards on without wondering if I'm going to be discriminated against for being a "bigot" (obviously I could always appeal/formally complain if I thought I was discriminated against, but I've got other things I need to be doing with my time this year!).

I'm not going to post my research question or faculty because my research will be online under my real name. It's a faculty where I've not seen a single student's research ask for sex for the last couple of years (not that I've seen every project, but I have clicked on all the ones I've seen). I also don't complete them if they insist my material reality is an identity choice. And I also dislike it when they ask at the end. That really annoyed me.

OP’s posts: |
Cascade220 Sat 01-Aug-20 22:43:30

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

ButterflyWitch Sat 01-Aug-20 22:48:04

I think you need to be clear on sex v gender. Perhaps ask for both?
Sex - female/male
Gender - woman/man/trans/other (specify) ?

Cascade220 Sat 01-Aug-20 23:03:14

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

CriticalCondition Sat 01-Aug-20 23:54:17

How about sex recorded at birth?
Nicely neutral.

And then an optional question on gender with a free text box.

Miriel Sun 02-Aug-20 00:01:23

I filled out one recently that asked 'what is your sex?' with male and female as the options, and then something to the effect of 'do you have the protected characteristic of gender reassignment?' with yes, no, or prefer not to say. I was very impressed by that, and ethics panels can't argue with the Equality Act.

I'm not doing empirical research myself at the moment, but I know that my heart sinks every time I see survey questions asking for 'gender' or 'gender identity', usually with a long list of options. It's so common in social science especially.

Ereshkigalangcleg Sun 02-Aug-20 00:03:09

That is a very good idea. You could have an explanation that you are looking at protected characteristics and link to the EA.

Yes, do this.

Ereshkigalangcleg Sun 02-Aug-20 00:05:14

If you are instructed to have a gender question please can you at least make it optional so people like me who refuse to play the gender game don't get excluded from research because we can't skip the question.

This. Otherwise we're obviously going to nope out of it.

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