British Social Attitudes survey. How is best to answer this question?

(31 Posts)
TheBitterBoy Sat 18-Sep-21 13:11:12

I am completing the British Social Attitudes survey, which seems pretty respected and partly government funded. Around 5000 participants invited at random every year.

First question is fine - What is your sex? A question about gender identity will follow this question. Options are female, male, prefer not to say.

Second question is the one I'm having trouble with,
Is the gender you identify with the same as your sex registered at birth?
This question is voluntary
Options are Yes, No (with a box to enter gender identity) and prefer not to say

I just don't know how is best to answer this honestly. I've never thought of myself as having a 'gender identity' and this seems to be a question in good faith and is collecting both sex and gender, which I believe is important.

OP’s posts: |
MistandMud Sat 18-Sep-21 13:14:38

‘Prefer not to say’ is the nearest. Or leave it out, as that seems to be an option.

CherieBabySpliffUp Sat 18-Sep-21 13:15:33

Select No then in the box explain what you've put here, that you've never thought of yourself as having a "gender identity."

TheBitterBoy Sat 18-Sep-21 13:16:51

If I press next to skip it without answering it then offers a 'don't know' option, but one has to be selected.

OP’s posts: |
VladmirsPoutine Sat 18-Sep-21 13:17:48

I would answer yes. I was born a woman and still consider myself a woman till this day. But I suppose you could answer 'Prefer not to say'.

TooWicked Sat 18-Sep-21 13:20:22

I’d go with prefer not to say and then hope there is a comments box somewhere further along or at the end of the survey.

ThisIsJeopardy Sat 18-Sep-21 13:26:47

I would say yes, and give feedback on the phrasing of the question separately. Maybe there is an 'any other comments' box at the end of the survey? I would very much want to point out the problem with the phrasing of the question, but it would be more important to me that the researchers understood my responses in the survey to be those of a woman, born female, and that there wouldn't be the possibility of being misclassified as a trans respondent or part of a growing number 'identifying' as nonbinary or whatever.


TheBitterBoy Sat 18-Sep-21 13:37:25

Thank you @ThisIsJeopardy, that has actually clarified what was bothering me. I want my responses recording as those of a woman, born female, so yes is my answer. I will look out for a comment box.

OP’s posts: |
TabbyStar Sat 18-Sep-21 13:45:18

My technical answer would be no, as I don't identify with being a woman (I am a woman). Though I would probably put prefer not to say, though I am actually also quite happy to say! Actually I'm going back to I'd answer no and then say I don't identify with any gender as it oppresses women. At least then if they bother to read the answer they'll know why.

PurpleParrotfish Sat 18-Sep-21 13:51:24

I guess what you want is for the question to ask whether you identify as a different gender? More straightforward for those who object to the idea or just aren’t sure what it means.

TheBitterBoy Sat 18-Sep-21 13:55:45

Two interesting questions regarding attitudes to transgender rights. One on whether attempts to give equal opportunities to transgender people have gone too far or not far enough, this was in a group of questions that asked the same question about race, lgb people and women, and another one about whether transgender people should be able to change the sex recorded on their birth certificate. I'd be very interested to see the results of this survey when they come out.

OP’s posts: |
SuperLoudPoppingAction Sat 18-Sep-21 14:10:47

That's quite interesting wording. I wonder what the results will indicate when they're published

MurielSpriggs Sat 18-Sep-21 14:24:15

Tangentially relevant - on the first and second question, do most transgender people accept that their sex is biologically fixed, but record their gender according to the way they now present themselves? Or I wonder if some transwomen, for example, think of their sex as being female?

In other words a transwoman might fill the form in in a way which makes her indistinguishable from someone born female. Unless there's a box which specifically asks "are you trans?" then I don't see how they can reliably capture this.

Just as the OP could interpret these questions in various ways, so could others. Once you start messing about with the definitions of words you make the results of these sorts of things pretty much useless.

TheBitterBoy Sat 18-Sep-21 15:29:40

Some information about the survey in case anyone is interested

OP’s posts: |
EmbarrassingAdmissions Sat 18-Sep-21 16:28:40

If the "box to enter gender identity" is large enough, then type in the one you prefer.

If I were asked this question, I'd need to reply that I reject the premises of the question and I would comment again in any free text box at the end of the survey.

ArabellaScott Sat 18-Sep-21 16:42:32

'Gender' is not something I identify with. I observe it and consider its effects, but it has little bearing on my sex or behaviour. 'Gender', as a concept can't be 'the same' as sex as they are by definition two different things.

It's a very difficult and complex question to answer. The way it's posed presumes quite a lot.

ArabellaScott Sat 18-Sep-21 16:42:54

I reject the premises of the question

Yes, this. It's not a neutral question.

CharlieParley Sat 18-Sep-21 17:36:26

I always choose no and write either "I do not identify with stereotypes" or "I don't have a gender, I reject stereotypes" or if I'm reallu crabbit "I don't identify with my oppression" and then explain this if they have a free comment box anywhere.

I do not ever say yes to this, because I don't want researchers thinking I have a gender identity. I don't.

ClumpingBambooIsALie Mon 20-Sep-21 00:17:46

I wish they would phrase questions with options that allow me to answer honestly. Like, "'Gender identity' is a term used to describe an inner sense of whether one is a man, a woman, or something else, which may or may not correlate with one's biological sex. Do you consider yourself to have a gender identity? Y/N If yes, what is your gender identity? Woman/man/non-binary/other[please specify]."

NiceGerbil Mon 20-Sep-21 01:17:53

The second is optional. Just leave it. I doubt they will read comments etc.

Collecting stats about sex and whether trans/ and identity is good.

That's how it should be. Collecting data on the trans population is a good idea. As long as sex is collected as well.

I have no beef with data collecting both sex and gender at all.

Understanding the views/ issues etc of this subset of the population will be useful. And I have no doubt that trans people do experience hostility discrimination etc. I mean those that present as opposite sex esp m2f.

That's my view.

Where things conflate sex and gender (what is your gender/ what is your sex? Male female non binary other for example). Or only collect gender and hope that most people fill their sex in automatically.

That's when it's time to get pissed off.

NiceGerbil Mon 20-Sep-21 01:19:10

AND it says sex REGISTERED at birth.

Far from being questionable this one is a win as far as I'm concerned.

Accurate stats for both sex and trans. Yay!

sashh Mon 20-Sep-21 01:32:52

I'd tick 'no' and then put a comment along the lines of "I don't have a gender" or "Gender is a social construct that should not be on this survey"

thirdfiddle Mon 20-Sep-21 01:53:39

There should be a "none" option in any gender identity question. "None/not applicable" is not the same as "I don't know" or "I don't want to say".

Cwenthryth Mon 20-Sep-21 07:00:29


AND it says sex REGISTERED at birth.

Far from being questionable this one is a win as far as I'm concerned.

Accurate stats for both sex and trans. Yay!

Sadly not. And I typed a long explanation why and then my phone died so I’ll have another go.

Q1 just asks “what is your sex”, many people who believe in gender identities conflate theirs with their sex, so they will answer q1 with their current identity, not their sex registered at birth. Many high profile transwomen answered this question on the census as “female”, and bragged about it on Twitter. Also, sex registered at birth can be retconned by a GRC, and as I understand it, the GRA as it stands means that even the existence of a GRC cannot be enquired about?

Q2 then goes on itself to conflate sex and gender identity, by stating that they can be the same thing - seeing as they are different characteristics, they are by definition not the same thing. This was how the census question failed. It doesn’t allow for plurality of belief on this issue, so cannot gather accurate data.

Q1 - female
Q2 - GI same as registered birth sex - no

Is this person:
- a transwoman who believes their sex is female but has no GRC?
- a transman who acknowledges their sex is female (with or without GRC)?
- a female non-binary person?
- a woman who does not believe in gender identity so by definition does not have one that matches her birth sex?

Q1 - female
Q2 - GI same as registered birth sex - yes

Is this person:
- a transwoman with a GRC, who believes their sex is female and now has a birth certificate that states that too?
- a ‘cis’ woman who believes in gender identity and believes hers matches her sex?
- a woman who doesn’t believe in gender identity but is trying to game the nonsensical question to be recorded as a woman?

As shown by these examples, both male and female people end up being recorded as female, both transgender and non-transgender people end up being recorded in both ‘yes’ and ‘no’ options for q2, just with everyone trying to answer as honestly as they can according to their beliefs. The question is a mess and therefore the data it gathers will be a mess too.

This is the same problem we have with the census.

ClumpingBambooIsALie Mon 20-Sep-21 13:42:56

I don't get why trans people who care about trans rights would want their trans status to be officially disappeared from the record :-/ Surely it's important to stand up and be counted?

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