The British government is considering removing a census question asking citizens to identify their gender and biological sex for the upcoming 2021 census.
British researchers for the National Statistics Office (ONS) have already rejected a proposal that a third gender-neutral category be eliminated, calling it intrusive and discriminatory against transgenders by compelling them to identify as such. They said that more research is needed to determine whether asking people to mark their gender is discriminatory and therefore should be eliminated. The researchers did not indicate whether asking males or females to do so would therefore be discriminatory as well.
Instead, they posit that the existing census question “should not be mandatory, for the benefit of particularly intersex and non-binary people who cannot choose male or female as a reflection of their current sex or gender,” the Independent reported. “We are aware that trans people themselves refer to their diverse identities and experiences in many different ways and that use of some terms is contested,” the Census Transformation Report says.
While the proposed change to the census is meant to protect transgender citizens, some feminists are worried that eliminating gender identity on the census will harm women.
“Women’s biological sex is being erased and that terrifies me. Once you stop gathering information, that skews everything for women,” feminist Stephanie Davies-Arai said.
Others worry that if the British government decides to adopt the recommendations, the census will lack information important to the nation’s safety because there will be no way to accurately count to number of men and women in the U.K.
“The document referred to is an update on research ONS has been undertaking on potentially collecting information on gender identity as well data on sex,” an ONS spokesman told the Telegraph. “ONS has yet to formulate its recommendations for the 2021 census. Once it has done so, the Government will bring forward a White Paper, which will include the census questions.”
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