Information about gender identity has not previously been collected in the census. Following feedback from the Census 2021 topic consultation, we committed to taking forward work on exploring whether and how to collect information on gender identity and published our outline Gender identity research and testing plan (PDF, 798KB).

An overview of the work being conducted in relation to gender identity is provided on the ONS gender identity pages. You can read about the findings from our research in the Census 2021 topic research report: December 2017 and the Census 2021 topic research report update: December 2018. As a result of our findings, we have recommended inclusion of this topic in Census 2021.

Further question development and testing informed the recommendations in the government White Paper Help Shape Our Future: The 2021 Census of Population and Housing in England and Wales (PDF 886KB), published in December 2018.

News and reports

24 March 2021

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) is committed to ensuring we deliver a high quality, inclusive census, which enables everyone to be counted. We are continuing to ask a binary choice - female or male - sex question on the census. This approach is unchanged since 1801. There is also a new voluntary question on gender identity for people aged 16 years and over later in the questionnaire.

Following a court order, related to the legislative framework of Census 2021, we amended the guidance for the sex question on 9 March. A notice has been added to the guidance report published on 12 February to make it clear which periods the different versions of the guidance were used.

22 February 2021, we published Census 2021: Qualitative research on the guidance for the question “What is your sex?”

12 February 2021, we published Census 2021: Final guidance for the question "What is your sex?"

26 June 2020, we published two reports on Sex and gender identity question development for Census 2021, and Exploring existing data on gender identity and sexual orientation.

11 September 2019, Guidance for questions on Sex, Gender Identity and Sexual Orientation for the 2019 Census Rehearsal for the 2021 Census

In September 2019, we published a report that includes a summary of the research that has informed the drafting of this guidance.

20 January 2017, Public acceptability questionnaire

As part of the research looking at the possible inclusion of questions on sexual orientation and gender identity on the 2021 Census questionnaire, we commissioned Ipsos MORI, an independent research agency, to study the public acceptability of asking such questions in a census. The fieldwork took place during January and February 2017.