The Scottish Government want to make amendments to the Census by adding in questions on Gender Identity and Sexual Orientation. This means a change in legislation is needed. Some questions are voluntary and some are required, with threat of penalty if unanswered. The Sexual Orientation question will be voluntary, just like the question on religion is.

However, it’s a different matter regarding Gender Identity. For starters, it hasn’t even been agreed what the questions will be and also what the definitions are of terms like ‘Sex’ and ‘Gender Identity’.

Now if you’re thinking that the definition of ‘Sex’ should be straightforward and reflect its meaning as stated in the Equality Act 2010 , then you’d mistaken. No, no it’s much more inclusive now & doesn’t mean biological sex or ‘legal’ sex anymore.

It’s self identified sex.

Yes, yes we’ve been asking this same question for a quite a wee while now & yes it is vital data needed to inform the government to target, plan and deliver services, and yes we even have it as a protected characteristic in equality law.

But, for some, it’s not quite inclusive enough

There’s been LOTS of research on how to ask ‘what sex are you?’ with various possibilities to tick. Many respondents were offended and refused to answer this question believing it was asking about their ‘biological or assigned at birth sex’ and not gender, others were ok with it.

Three alternative questions were created on how to ask ‘what is your sex?’ Again there was confusion, some thought Other was for Intersex so didn’t answer, others thought asking ‘how you identify’ was a gender identity question and not about sex.

Others believed sex was binary.

How bizarre is this response from the general population sampled?

“The majority of the respondents interpreted the word ‘sex’ in the version A of the question as biological sex. “

Unbelievable!! Someone needs to tell the government about this.

Because they believe that when the 1920 Act mentions asking people questions on ‘sex’ that it actually means their ‘gender identity’. Basically sex and gender Identity are linked?!

So, whatever question they end up going with could be compulsory & we are all required to answer.

How are they defining Gender Identity?

“Gender Identity refers to the internal sense of who we are, and how we see ourselves in gender terms, being male, female, or somewhere in between/beyond these identities.”

Look, gender terms, ‘gender’. They KNOW it’s different from sex.

Now, are they trying to conflate Sex not only with gender, but now more worryingly with Gender Identity?

Is one of the most rudimentary questions on the Census basically being replaced with ‘what is your Gender Identity’?

If the question is no longer a binary Male/Female then…yes.

They’ve already made this change early this year to the Household Survey, where the question is ‘what is your gender identity?’ Maybe the wording won’t be as obvious but it is what they are planning to ask.

Maybe before they put Gender Identity into legislation we should all agree on what it even means. Because this statement from the Census report doesn’t fill me with confidence.

A protected characteristic in the Equality Act 2010? Really? Are we just making things up to make them fit now?

The UK Women & Equalities Committee Transgender Inquiry (2016) requested that the protected characteristic Gender Reassignment be changed to Gender Identity and the UK Government said NO.  So, can we just stop pretending that it’s somehow still relevant.

Ah, but look at the Legal section here.

Does this answer everything? Is the Gender Recognition Act 2004 review a done deal?

I’m sure the women of Scotland have nothing to fear when these stakeholders met to discuss changing the meaning of the word Sex. Our representatives would have been there stressing just how important this is for us.

But then again maybe not, why bother changing habits now.

Great thing is that these ‘progressive’ changes aren’t just happening up here in Scotland, it’ll be UK wide this time. You might have noticed the stakeholders in the meeting were from the other UK agencies. Harmonisation across the UK.

The Committee are calling for evidence on this proposed Bill and the closing date is Friday 23rd November if you’d like to submit anything.

Basically, they haven’t agreed on what questions to ask but just want to amend the legislation to include questions on Gender Identity and Sexual Orientation.

I think objections are needed for their current reinterpretation of Sex. It should only refer to biological sex, Female/Male.

I haven’t mentioned the test questions on trans and sexual orientation, because I think they are needed and I think these stakeholders are best placed to assist in the formation of those questions.

But they shouldn’t get to change the meaning of the word Sex.

“There will be a large scale rehearsal which is planned for October 2019. All of the elements outlined in these plans will be tested as part of that rehearsal to ensure that approaches and questions are fit for purpose and that all of the systems and processes work as planned.”

Good Luck with your rehearsal!

(This was originally tweeted in a thread on my Twitter Account SusanSinclair@Scottish_Women on 17/11/18 )

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