It is disappointing that on the first year our census has acknowledged the existence of trans people, a case has been brought before the High Court that to many trans people will feel like an attack.
At the heart of this is a lack of clarity from the Office of National Statistics (ONS) regarding what they are attempting to measure with their question on sex, and the High Court’s interim order doesn’t really clarify this.
If the ONS is intending to measure sex as registered at birth, then this order does not deliver that.
If the ONS is intending to measure the gender people currently live as (as described on their Driving License and Passport) then this order actively prevents this.
Further, changing this guidance when 20% of households have already submitted their response to the Census means there is certain to be inconsistency in how this question is answered. But more important than the impact on statistical analysis is the human impact this order may have on the lives of trans people.
Closeted trans people, living in shared housing, who do not have a GRC may be wondering how they can answer the census without outing themselves to their household. While it is possible for individuals to submit a response separate to their household it is not clear whether it is permissible for these individuals to allow an incorrect answer to these core questions to be submitted with the intention of overwriting the household submission with an individual, private response.
There will be some people now confused and concerned that they may be persecuted for misunderstanding this change in guidance which could lead to criminal prosecution and fines up to £1000 which could be particularly damaging to trans people who are disproportionately in insecure, low paid work or with no work due to discrimination.
In her statement following the court’s order the director of Fair Play For Women expressed how important accurate data is in measuring inequality. Without measuring inequality, we can not hope to adequately address it. This is as important for trans people as it is for any other group with a protected characteristic covered by the equality act.
Lincoln Labour Party shall:
- Call on the ONS to urgently provide updated guidance to allow trans people to be
counted in the census in a way that is lawful and does not out them to their
- Call on the ONS to issue additional guidance for any trans people who have already
answered the census regarding any action they need to take in response to this
- Issue a statement of solidarity with the trans community and encourage trans
people to answer the voluntary gender identity question.