Census 2021

Census 2021

On the 15th December 2019 , experts in social statistics and users of population level data, called on the UK’s census authorities to retain the integrity of the category of sex, and not to conflate this with gender identity.

A letter was sent to the directors of the three UK census authorities, as well as the Prime Minister and First Minister of Scotland. This was reported by The Times here and here.

The experts expressed concern about the proposed online guidance to accompany the sex question in the 2021 census, which advises respondents that they may respond in terms of their self-identified gender. The guidance acts to conflate two distinct characteristics—sex and gender reassignment, both protected categories under the Equality Act 2010—and will effectively transform the longstanding sex question into a question about gender identity. We are concerned that this will actively undermine data reliability on a key demographic variable, and damage our ability to both capture and remedy sex-based discrimination.

The Political Erasure of Sex aims to document the process of policy capture in our public institutions, and how it is impacting the recognition and recording of biological sex in public policy, law, language, and data-collection. They produced a report in October 2020 The report arises from research funded by Research England’s Strategic Priorities Fund (SPF) QR allocation to the University of Oxford.

They have produced reports and audio visual media on their findings here

other Readings can be found here

Back under the radar? A review of plans for the census, Murray Blackburn MacKenzie
Read blogpost
This blog looks at recent developments on the framing of the sex question in the next census.

International evidence and the risks of reframing the sex question in the census, Murray Blackburn MacKenzie
Read blogpost
This blogpost looks at international data on self-declared gender identity, highlighting the risk to the integrity of the census from changing the definition of sex.

Sex and the census: why surveys should not conflate sex and gender identity, Alice Sullivan
Read academic paper
This paper, published in the International Journal of Social Research Methodology, considers the proposed guidance for the 2021 census. It highlights that it raises issues about the measurement of sex and gender identity with which other data collection exercises are also contending. This paper addresses the questions that have arisen regarding the census, before going on to explain how these questions have emerged more widely A free to read version is available here

Sex in the census (18 October 2020)