Census 2021 deadline is today, but answering the question about sex incorrectly could trigger a string of false data points for the government…
Since 1801 a Census has taken place in the countries of Great Britain every ten years, apart from 1921 in Ireland (because of their Civil War); 1941 (because of WW2); and this year, in Scotland, where it has been postponed due to the pandemic.
We, the great British public being asked for our data today, do not get to see the entire census results for 100 years.
A Summary is published by the Office for National Statistics (ONS), with more detail available to civil servants, and is used to track demographics and for a range of policy-making. Such as housing, town planning, transport; and for our beloved National Health Service.
This is probably the single most important reason why you should answer truthfully to Question 1: What is your sex – Male or Female?
(Apart from just being honest).
Just a few of the health issues which are different or display differently in men and women include: heart disease, prostate cancer, arthritis, diabetes, mental illnesses, and illnesses relating to childbirth such as endometriosis.
The basic make-up of our bodies account for some of the differences: women live longer than men, carry more water in their bodies, while men are likely to do heavier physical work, and they have a prostate.
Even men who are living socially as “women”.
The prostate is not removed during sex change surgery because of “the risk of side effects such as urinary problems and damage to nerves”, according to this website.
Nor do women living socially as “men” have a prostate gland surgically installed. (You never hear of “transmen” crowd-funding to get a prostate gland).
For this reason (and the other health reasons), you would think that in order for the data from the census to be used accurately by the NHS, not only would everyone be keen to answer Question 1 honestly, but that the ONS would help them to do so if they were in any doubt of their answer.
The ONS guidance is allowing us to answer Question 1 based on “sex as recorded on a birth certificate or a Gender Recognition Certificate”.
Since the GRA 2004 introduced these certificates, just under 5,000 people in the UK have been issued one, an average of 300 a year. (Transactivists say that this is because the criteria are too onerous).
To get one, you need to have a doctor’s note, and have been living in your chosen gender for two years. The instructions on how to apply are here.
Until March 8th 2021, against the advice of lawyers, the ONS had issued guidance for Question 1 which also allowed self-declared gender identity on documents such as passports and driving licences, Student Union cards etc., which can be changed as part of the process of living in your chosen gender, but without any necessity to be actually taking sex change hormones or having surgery.
This guidance was challenged by Fair Play For Women, supported by several other feminist groups, who successfully crowdfunded £100,000 in two weeks for an emergency legal challenge in the High Court. And won.
Some 5,000 men and women donated an average of £20. You can read about the campaign here.
Although the challenge was successful, and the ONS were ordered to amend their guidance and pay all costs, it is still not satisfactory that Question 1 has any guidance other than declaring the sex that is recorded on your birth certificate.
There are two separate questions in the 2021 Census, 26 and 27, on gender identity, so any honest “transperson” who cared about the NHS, and other public services, can answer Question 1 honestly and then answer 26 and 27 as they saw fit.
But no. There are still juveniles (who were at Primary School at the time of the last Census) stamping their feet on Twitter, saying they will lie on Question 1 anyway, (re-writing their own family history), and what is all the fuss about?
To be sure, people have been busily lying on the census for two hundred years.
In 2001, 390,000 declared their religion as “Jedi” (from Star Wars ) – you can write in anything you like at Q.16 – “What is your religion”? And Atheists are well catered for: “No Religion” is the first of the multi-choice answers.
And which of us hasn’t humorously added their pet as an extra child? (Guilty, in 1991).
But answering Question 1 dishonestly is a whole different (cough) ball-game – because it actually invalidates all your subsequent answers.
As the Sex in The Census 2021 website says: “People should be free to live as they choose, and not face harassment if they do not confirm with gender norms. But answering clear questions about your biological sex, where this matters, is something everyone has to do at times, whether for their own health and safety or because it touches the lives of other people”.
You can still order a paper copy of the Census, so that you can send a protest letter back by Freepost, to Professor Sir Ian Diamond, explaining why Question 1 should only be about the sex registered at birth. Here is the link.
It doesn’t matter if you send in your Census in the coming few days, an army of census-takers will be knocking on doors to scoop up the people who forgot/were too busy/dog-ate-my-form, over the next couple of months.
You can still have your letter to Sir Ian ready to hand to them when they visit.
Here is a short video guide to ordering a paper copy:
Sir Ian clearly knew that the guidance would be challenged, and the challenge would likely be successful. On February 12th, he put out a press release that this would probably be the last national census anyway. He will be looking in future for easier and cheaper ways to collect the data our government departments, agencies, charities, police and the NHS need to map their services to the UK demographics.
This may be the last national census, but I predict that Fair Play for Women – and the wider and galvanised women’s movement – will be busy on the issue of data collection by sex for many years to come.
Here’s Stella Perrett’s Census 2021 cartoon (also main picture):