Lobby Group Tactics used at Census Bill Oral Evidence

I’ve posted before that Trans Lobby Groups use the same two tactics whenever they are campaigning for changes to legislation, policies etc

#1 We are already doing it

#2 It won’t make a difference to anyone else, because the number of trans people / non-binary are so low

On Thursday 6/12/18 the CTEEA Committee heard evidence from Vic Valentine, the Scottish trans policy officer for the Scottish trans alliance, and Tim Hopkins, the director of the Equality Network regarding the proposed Census (Amendment)(Scotland) Bill. The proposals are to include Gender Identity within the definition of the compulsory question on Sex and also to introduce two voluntary questions on Gender Identity and Sexual Orientation. Although not written into the Bill, it is strongly suggested that the Sex question will be changed to then include a third option for non-binary identities to select.

A great deal of written evidence had already been submitted disputing that the Sex question was already one of self identified sex, along with highlighting the problems of conflating sex and gender, and asking what purpose does collecting data on gender, not sex, actually serve.

So …… let’s look through the minutes of the Oral Evidence and see how often the two tactics were used.

Wow! Already, the very first sentence is –

“The guidance on the previous census said that trans people were to answer the sex question in line with their self-identified sex. ” – VV

“In 2011 the 1 per cent of people who are trans were told to answer it according to the sex that they believed themselves to be. In fact, the Office for National Statistics issued guidance for the England and Wales census for 2001 that said the same thing, so this has been going on for two decades. ” – TH

Question by CB MSP – “Your submission describes the trans population as being “so small” and states that “there is a relatively small number of non-binary people”. It is often emphasised that we are talking about only a small number of people, but the general discussion seems to suggest that there is an increasing number and that the younger generation has a different view. Do you have any views on that? Do you still maintain that there is only a small population and that, to an extent, the data would not be affected? “

“The estimate of 0.6 per cent comes from a Williams institute paper that drew together a large number of state-level surveys that were conducted across the USA and pooled the figures from them to come to an average across the USA. That study was published relatively recently, and I do not think there has been such an enormous shift that we would anticipate seeing a figure much bigger than that overall. ” VV

“Earlier this year, the Parliament passed the Gender Representation on Public Boards (Scotland) Act 2018, which, as you know, requires public bodies to push the percentage of women on their boards up to 50 per cent. The act defines women as including trans women who are living as women. It would be rather strange, therefore, in terms of baseline data, if the census asked about something different from that”

“The Parliament has already decided that that should include all women who identify and live as women, including trans women, and we believe that the census should use the same definition. ” TH

“That would be a very retrograde step, and it has not happened for the past 20 years “ TH

“It is really important to have consistency from census to census, and I think the data will be more consistent if you stick with lived sex. ” TH

“If you were to introduce a mandatory sex-at- birth question with just male and female options ” VV

“Returning to the sex question for a moment, the crucial question is whether it should ask about biological sex, legal sex or the sex that someone lives as. We are absolutely clear that asking about the sex that someone lives as would be consistent with the previous censuses ” TH

“In our view, it would be consistent with other legislation and with the previous two censuses to ask people about how they live their life and their self-identified lived gender ” TH

“The question would arise if you asked about biological sex rather than about—as has happened for the past 20 years—self-identified sex. ” TH

Question by KG MSP “The reason for that is the rapid growth in the trans community in the past decade or two. The number of people who are trans has grown by 700 per cent—I saw that figure, although I do not know whether it is accurate—over the past five years. How would you reassure women who have concerns about safe spaces and so on? “

“My quick answer to that would be that, if the committee has concerns in that area, I strongly urge it to speak to the organisations that are providing women-only services to the most vulnerable women in Scotland. Organisations such as Rape Crisis Scotland and Scottish Women’s Aid now provide services that are trans inclusive— they provide those services to trans women. They have been developing that over many years and have worked through these issues to ensure that they know that they are providing safe services. I am very sure that those organisations, and organisations that work for women generally in Scotland, such as Engender, would be very happy to speak to members of the committee and give further evidence on this. ” TH

“Fundamentally, what needs to be decided is whether the compulsory question is going to ask for the three things that I mentioned earlier: biological sex, legal sex or the sex that you live as. That is the fundamental question. If the answer is the third of those—which, we should bear in mind, is what has been done for the past 20 years ” TH

“to give non- binary people an option that they can truly answer so that they do not have to be dishonest by ticking either the male or the female box. That is the only reason for a change in the compulsory question from 2011—it is not about counting people. ” TH

(So, to sum up not only was it allegedly a self identifying sex question in 2011, but now as far back as 2001, although details are a bit hazy whether this was just in England & Wales and not Scotland. I was completely unaware of this change to I’ve asked the NRS a few questions. Also, no proper answers were given to either of the questions about the growing trans population)

The meeting then ended with this statement from the Equality Network …….

“the Scottish Government has promised that the bill to reform the Gender Recognition Act 2004 will be introduced in the 2019-20 Scottish parliamentary year” TH

Oh really? Who exactly made this promise? Was it made before or after the public consultation? Before or after the analysis of the responses were published? I mean seriously, the Government hasn’t even released their statement yet about the consultation but somehow, somewhere along the way this promise was made …..

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