The 2011 census and non-binary identity

SA400031.JPG[Image shows the word Census in a black box in the top right hand corner, with the words ‘enclosed’ and ‘is required by law’ on a cream background in purple letters]

Yesterday, my household’s copy of the census plopped into our lives. It hasn’t yet been filled in, or even opened, but I know that when we do open it and begin to fill it in, I will have to sit by and allow myself to be misgendered. I will have to supply false information, because there is no option to supply the truth. Being misgendered, in every legal way that one is when one is outside the binary, hurts. It denies us legitimacy, self-determination, and gives our opponents a weapon to use against us. (The statistician and sociologist in me also often screams about inaccuracy…)

Christie Elan-Cane , a person working for recognition of non-gendered people – I am not sure whether this encompasses the whole non-binary community, but from certain usages I would imagine so – has directly contacted the Permanent Secretaryof the ONS, Jil Matheson, to express this. Per posted this on per livejournal , and I will quote a few fragments here;

Your opening message on the front cover of the census questionnaire states “Everyone should be included in the census – all people, ……..”

My core identity is NON-GENDERED

Under ‘Individual questions’ on census questionnaire is the requirement for the respondent to state their sex with two options: ‘Male’ and ‘Female’.

This question can be interpreted in two ways: that the respondent states their sex (the physicality) or their gender (the gender identity). Given that the question asks only for the respondent’s sex is a misnomer or at least open to dispute as the physicality and the identity are not necessarily the same.

Notwithstanding the fact that if the purpose of the question was solely in reference to the sex there is the obvious exclusion of ‘Intersex’ from permitted response options, but it should be assumed the majority of respondents would choose to state their gender (gender identity) if the core identity of the respondent is different to their sex (physicality).

The Office for National Statistics have missed what should have been a valuable opportunity – and a very timely opportunity considering the measures the transpopulation are expecting to be undertaken by the Government Equalities Office under a forthcoming Government Action Plan – to identify a definable section within the population whose marginalised existence has traditionally been ignored.

Furthermore, I regard the mandatory requirement to declare myself either male or female not only inappropriate but insulting and deeply offensive.


Christie Elan-Cane


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