ONS U-Turns On Self-ID Census Question

Feb 20, 2021

Controversial plans to allow people to ‘self-identify’ as the opposite sex on this year’s census for England and Wales have been abandoned.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) has said respondents will now be required to enter their ‘legal sex’ and may not choose their ‘preferred option’.

This will be made clear in guidance to accompany the census, which states that respondents should use the sex recorded on one of their legal documents “such as a birth certificate, Gender Recognition Certificate, or passport”.

The inclusion of “passport” is certainly problematic but this is still an improvement on 2011, when, although the historic question remained unchanged, respondents were permitted to answer according to their self-declared identity.

It follows an intervention by eighty leading social statisticians, who in 2019 wrote to the UK census authorities expressing concern that draft guidance advised people they may “respond in terms of their self-identified gender”.

The statisticians said the guidelines would “effectively transform the longstanding sex question into a question about gender identity” and may “actively undermine data reliability”.

Professor Sir Ian Diamond, the Government’s principal adviser on official statistics, explained that the question was not changing: “We are asking a very simple question which is ‘what is your sex, your legal sex’. And that’s the right way to do this on a census.” He added: “The question on sex is precisely the same question as it has been since 1801”.

Unfortunately, however, for the first time people over the age of 16 will be given the option to indicate their ‘gender identity’ in an additional question.

At C4M we stand for the true definition of marriage as a union between a biological man and a biological woman. While we welcome that sex is not being abolished in favour of self-chosen ‘gender identity’ on the census, we disagree with using legal sex rather than biological sex. The census is an important survey for planning for health, education, employment and so on, so biological sex is the relevant fact. Even using “legal” sex weakens its value in this regard.

We are dismayed by the encroachment of gender theory in the form of a voluntary ‘gender identity’ question. This is unnecessary and risks further normalising a radical ideology that has the potential to cause serious damage in our society, not least to women. The recent news that Brighton and Sussex University Hospitals NHS Trust has become the first to issue a ‘gender inclusive language policy’ in which breastfeeding is renamed ‘chestfeeding’ and breastmilk becomes ‘chestmilk’ is a case in point.

Gender theory needs to be reined in, not dialled up. At least there is good news on the main census question.