Be a Statistic!

by an Anonymous Shaker

[Trigger warning for enforcement of the gender binary.]

In the UK, it's census year.

It's the final census year.

I didn't realise this until I went and had a chat with my Member of Parliament about, among other things, ways in which the current census format is rubbish for people outside the gender binary (and, indeed, for binary-gendered trans people). The last census was when I was 10; I wasn't paying much attention. Turns out that it's rubbish in a lot of other ways, too. But in particular, question number two looks like this:

What is your sex?
□ Male □ Female

No clear indication that for binary-gendered trans people the information sought is gender rather than birth-assigned gender. No "other, write in", as is provided for almost all the other fields of this type. No way to collect data on people who are agendered or bigendered or genderqueer or genderfluid or intersex or any of a host of other non-binary identities.

No wonder people think we don't exist.

So I phoned them up to ask.

My first contact was professional, friendly and helpful. They were unable to answer my question so escalated it. This was all fine and good.

Then I got a call back from head office. The person phoning me seemed to struggle with correct terminology for binary-gendered trans people, never mind understanding non-binary genders. (They helpfully suggested that given my female-coded birth name, it might be most appropriate for me to tick "female". I explained that I was in the process of legally acquiring a gender-neutral name. They then suggested I tick "male".)

I refused to accept the first response, which was "tick whichever feels most appropriate", on the grounds that neither is. I asked questions. I made suggestions.

The result is that I have verbal agreement that ticking both "male" and "female" is acceptable. In particular, you cannot be fined for ticking both if this is the most accurate representation of your gender achievable using the layout given – though you might be phoned up "to double-check".

Personally, I feel this is inadequate. I'm going to tick both boxes – but I'm also going to write an explanation.

Yes, it's the last year of the census – but this doesn't mean there's no point standing up and shouting about it. Because the last thing I was told on that phone call…?

Was that if I tick both boxes, somebody somewhere is going to have to work out how to take account of it in the statistics.

Let's make it a statistic worth noticing.

What can you do if?

If you are a person who is trans, agendered, bigendered, genderqueer, genderfluid, intersex, or any of a host of other non-binary identities:

* Phone the census helpline (0300 0201 101) and confirm what you should do.

* If non-binary gendered, tick both boxes and/or write in your correct gender.

* If binary gendered, tick boxes as you would normally (it would be lovely to get a good lower bound on the number of non-binary gendered people, and we can't do that if the data's polluted!) – and then write in "□ Other" or "□ Neither" (but leave it blank).

* Write to your MP, or Lynne Featherstone via your MP, asking that whatever replaces the census take non-binary gendered people into account. is extremely helpful in this regard.

* If on facebook, invite your friends to the event.

Teaspoons ahoy!

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