Our 2021 Census topic consultation identified a need amongst a number of data users for information about gender identity for policy development and service planning, especially in relation to the provision of health services. These requirements are strengthened by the need for information on those with the protected characteristic of gender reassignment as set out in the Equality Act 2010. Gender identity is an additional census topic request. The Gender identity topic report on the consultation findings provides further information.
We do not currently collect data on gender identity on any social surveys, so research and testing work will inform our position on this topic. We have published a Gender identity research and testing plan. This sets out the work we will do to help us understand concepts, terminology and user requirements on gender identity; to determine whether, and how best, to meet user needs for information on this topic. These plans build on our Trans Data Position Paper (May 2009), which outlined the difficulties of collecting data on gender identity within household surveys. The plans include engaging with relevant stakeholders, including members of the transgender (trans) community, to clarify data requirements: the concepts to be measured and output categories required.
This workshop was the first stage of our development work and stakeholder engagement on gender identity.
A summary from the sexual identity workshop, which was held on the same day is also available.Back to table of contents
The workshop was designed to provide an opportunity to explore concepts, terminology and data needs together with members of the trans community and users of gender identity data. It also provided the opportunity for participants to learn more about our research and testing plans for the gender identity topic.
Workshop participants were primarily identified through responses to the public 2021 Census topic consultation, which anyone could take part in. Organisations and individuals with a special interest or expertise in gender identity or gender variance were also identified and invited to attend the workshop or contribute to the work. We aimed to achieve a good range of relevant parties.
The workshop was attended by representatives from:
special interest groups and members representing the trans community (for example, Gender Identity Research and Education Society (GIRES), Stonewall, Mermaids)
national health organisations
public bodies and organisations with equalities responsibilities (for example, Equalities and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) and Government Equalities Office (GEO))
academics and researchers
the UK Statistics Offices – Office for National Statistics (ONS), National Records of Scotland (NRS) and Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency (NISRA)
A full list of participants is available at the end of this summary.Back to table of contents
The workshop opened with our introduction, which included:
an overview of the outcomes of the 2021 Census topic consultation and requirements for information on gender identity
the process and criteria for developing products to meet user data needs, starting with identifying and understanding the need
an introduction to the topic of gender identity
information about our Gender identity research and testing plan
a review of our earlier work (the Trans Data Position Paper), and the recommended questions developed by the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC)
Participants took part in 3 activities:
Exploring concepts and terminology
Working together in small groups, participants identified terms used to describe various non-binary and gender identities and associated definitions.
Exploring and understanding data needs – output categories
Discussions focused on the types of gender identity data that could possibly be collected and the output categories that would best fit the needs of participants. To stimulate discussion, the categories used within the recommended EHRC gender identity questions were provided.
Exploring and understanding data needs – detailed requirements and benefits
This activity enabled participants to share specific details of their requirements for gender identity data – exactly what information is required, why, and what the benefits and impact of having these data would be.Back to table of contents
Concepts and terminology
A person’s identity is subjective.
There are a variety of terms used to self-identify a gender identity, trans or non-binary identity. Participants acknowledged that the range of terminology and identities were wide and complex, and said it was difficult to give definitions. This is a dynamic and changing area, with new terms regularly introduced and outdated terms being replaced. There were differences in views amongst participants over the acceptability and definitions of some terms.
”Transgender”, “trans” or “trans*” are umbrella terms (rather than a specific identity), which includes all those whose gender identity does not match the sex assigned to them at birth.
“Non-binary” is an umbrella term for those who do not identify as male or female, or who may identity with aspects of both male and female.
Some participants said that in the past the trans umbrella may not have included those who are non-binary, but often does now.
One participant used the term “non-gendered” and held very strong views about this. They defined non-gendered as the technically and grammatically correct definition for neither male nor female (as there are only 2 genders in the gendered societal structure). However other participants strongly opposed this term.
Within the trans population there are a number of sub-groups or identities. Often participants felt that it wasn’t necessary to know the specifics of a person’s identity or what stage of transition they might be at. It was more important to capture the wider group and shared experience of those who self-identify as an identity different to that assigned to them at birth, particularly in terms of data requirements, service and support needs.
Participants raised the difficulty of applying terms and capturing specific populations. For example, there are a variety of stages through which an individual may transition on their journey from one gender identity to another, and at which point they may be counted as reaching their chosen destination.
“Intersex” refers to those who are biologically born as neither, or both, sexes. While intersex was seen as an important group, some participants noted that it was not a gender identity.
Discussions highlighted that many terms used in the Equalities and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) recommended questions were outdated.
As a result of the workshop, we have gained further insight and clarity into terminology and concepts. This is a complex and dynamic area, with terms often contested. We acknowledge that additional work is needed to further understand terminology and those population(s) included under the trans umbrella and how this feeds into specific data needs.
Considerations around collecting gender identity information
Participants said it was important for the respondent to feel that they have the opportunity to self-identify in the way they want to and feel comfortable in so doing, for any potential question on gender identity, including questions actually asking about sex.
Participants raised the need to ensure that any questions asked on gender identity are appropriate and use up-to-date terminology. There was a request for us to work with as many parts of the trans community as possible to achieve this, and participants were keen to be involved going forward.
Conversations highlighted matters of privacy and acceptability about what information it was appropriate, or not appropriate, to ask respondents for. In addition, sensitivities around asking for detailed information, particularly from those who are transitioning from one gender to another, were highlighted. Individuals may not wish to declare the specifics of their identity, trans journey or status; essentially this was seen as private information. Participants recognised the challenges of collecting such information on social surveys.
Trans people may suffer, or be concerned that they will suffer, discrimination or harassment if their trans identity is known. As such, there is mistrust within the trans community about being asked a question on gender identity and what the information might be used for. Participants highlighted the need to provide respondents with information about why any gender identity question is being asked, and to provide an assurance of confidentiality.
Possible contextual effects and data quality issues were touched upon. There were concerns about whether people would answer a question on gender identity correctly.
Data needs, benefits and impact
Discussions on needs, benefits and impacts confirmed findings from the consultation that there is a clear need for data on gender identity. There is an overarching need for a reliable estimate of the population identifying as trans. (The trans umbrella captures the wider group of those who self-identify as an identity different to that assigned to them at birth.) Participants said that those captured within the trans population are part of the same marginalised community. They will have had similar experiences, potential for discrimination or inequality and will share similar support and health needs, no matter the stage of transition or specific self-identity. There are currently no official data available about the size of the trans population. Such information would increase visibility and provide a better basis for identifying needs, services and support.
Estimates were needed:
for children and young people (up to age 18) as well as adults
at national level (England, Wales and Scotland) and local authority level; some users requested other geographies, for example, regional, ward level and small areas (the user need for these specific geographies would need further investigation)
to enable multivariate analysis, particularly for identifying inequalities; for example, some users said that they would like to be able to carry out cross-tabulations with age, employment, disability or ethnicity data
to enable comparison with the national average and also comparisons with other areas
to enable comparisons over time
Stakeholders require the data to meet a variety of needs, including:
equalities monitoring and identifying disadvantage
monitoring discrimination, for example, to provide a denominator for hate crimes
informing and influencing policy, service provision and planning, particularly in healthcare but also in relation to other services, for example, education, crime and criminal justice, housing and homelessness
informing specialist services and support requirements for the trans community and targeting those effectively
for more informed allocation of funding
addressing the specific needs of children and young people, and raising awareness and understanding of gender-variance amongst educators and those providing children’s services
The discussions identified an additional need for a broad breakdown, particularly to help identify protected groups. There was a strong need for a reliable estimate of those covered by the Equality Act 2010 to meet statutory requirements for equality monitoring, particularly by local authorities and public bodies. The Equality Act 2010 consolidated previous equality legislation and states that it is unlawful to discriminate against workers because of “gender reassignment” in relation to provision of goods and services, employment, or vocational training. Furthermore, the Act introduces a “public sector Equality Duty”, which requires that public bodies consider all individuals when shaping policy, delivering services and interacting with their own employees. They must also have due regard to the need to eliminate discrimination, advance equality of opportunity and foster good relations between different people when carrying out their activities.
Many participants felt that the Act needed to be interpreted more broadly to cover all those with a trans identity and should not be limited to those with the protected characteristic of gender reassignment. As such, there was some mismatch between data required for monitoring equality of the wider trans population compared with data required to meet the legal definition and monitor equality for a much narrower and specific group.
Some users expressed a need for other broad breakdowns, for example, “non-binary” and “non-gendered”. The strength of need for such breakdowns would need further investigation.
Discussions highlighted the need to clarify what information is actually being collected when we are asking about sex and what data are actually required. For example, someone born male but living as female may not have legally changed their gender but would still identify as “female”. It was noted that numbers would be small, and some participants considered whether information on sex could be replaced with asking about gender. In addition, there were discussions around biological sex and the requirement for data on sex to calculate fertility and mortality statistics and meet health needs (for example, cervical screening for trans men). There were also considerations about how sex and gender may relate to inequality. It was noted that “sex” is also a protected characteristic, so important for equalities monitoring. As such, there was a requirement to take this into account when considering any changes to the information on sex already collected.
Participants identified that answering a question on sex was difficult for those who did not identify with the binary categories of “male” and “female” and those who did not want to identify with their birth sex, as well as those who may be intersex (non- XX or XY chromosomes).
In light of the issues raised in terms of gender identity, there is a need for us to review the instructions around the sex question, particularly where the sex question is asked without a gender question.
It was clear that not all data needs can be met using one measure. We note that further engagement with stakeholders will be required to clarify the exact need for data on the trans population, gender reassignment and sex.Back to table of contents
This workshop provided the start of stakeholder engagement on gender identity.
The main outcomes from the workshop were:
gender identity concepts, terminology and information needs were further clarified, building on our understanding of user needs following the 2021 Census topic consultation
we presented the research and testing plan on gender identity; participants did not highlight any significant gaps in the plan or suggest additional work
we identified a clear need for data on gender identity: a reliable estimate of the population identifying as trans, and also for those covered by the protected characteristic of “gender reassignment”
data about the trans population is needed for a variety of uses, including meeting requirements under the Equality Act 2010
participants acknowledged that the range of terminology and identities were wide, complex and often changing
participants recognised that it was important for the respondent to feel that they have the opportunity to self-identify in the way they want to and feel comfortable in so doing, for any potential question on gender identity, including questions asking about sex
participants highlighted the need to provide respondents with information about why any gender identity question is being asked, and to provide an assurance of confidentiality
issues of privacy, acceptability and quality around collecting data on gender identity were acknowledged; work to further understand these issues in relation to collecting gender identity data on a social survey, and the challenges they might bring, is included as part of our Gender identity research and testing plan
there is a need for us to review the instructions around the sex question, particularly where the sex question is asked without a gender question
we note that additional work and engagement with stakeholders will be required to further clarify concepts and terminology, and identify specific needs for data on the trans population, gender reassignment and sex
we identified opportunities for collaboration, to build relations and establish longer-term engagement with stakeholders, data users and organisations for ongoing work on gender identity.
We received very positive feedback from participants about the workshop. Participants welcomed the engagement and opportunity to share their views and express their requirements.
For participants, the main outcomes from the workshop were:
they were able to take part in discussions and share views on concepts and terminology relating to gender identity to inform our work
all participants felt that the workshop enabled them to share views and requirements for gender identity data
participants felt that a diversity of organisations and stakeholders had been represented at the workshop, which captured a wide range of views
participants reported that they felt more informed about our research and testing plans on the gender identity topic as a result of attending the workshop
participants have a better understanding of the factors we are considering as we determine whether and how to meet gender identity information needs through the 2021 Census and wider
the start of building relations and establishing longer-term collaboration with us on the gender identity work; all participants were keen to be included in future engagement
A list of those who attended the workshop was requested by participants. This has been included as part of this summary.Back to table of contents
Our development work on gender identity will continue as outlined in the Gender identity research and testing plan. This plan will also be further developed as additional work and testing are identified. Any updates will be published.
Results from public acceptability research and other testing will inform a recommendation on whether or not to include a question on gender identity in the 2021 Census. Our research timetable is determined by the legislative framework that governs the census. Preparation for the Census White Paper in 2017 is the first key milestone in the legislative process. It provides the opportunity for informed public and Parliamentary debate before further legislative arrangements are taken forward.
We plan to keep stakeholders, including all participants who attended the August 2016 workshop, informed by sharing findings from research and testing.
Work will inform our wider position on gender identity, and help to determine whether, and how, to best meet user needs for information on this topic.
Further to the workshop, we may follow up with individual organisations on specific issues, particularly where opportunities for collaboration have been identified. Suggestions made about further organisations to engage with will also be followed up.Back to table of contents
|Ann Blake||Office for National Statistics (ONS)|
|Bernard Reed||Gender Identity Research and Education Society (GIRES)|
|Cheryl Gowar||National AIDS Trust (NAT)|
|Christie Elan-Cane||NON-GENDERED – Fighting for Legal Recognition|
|Emily Knipe||Office for National Statistics (ONS)|
|Emily Shrosbree||Office for National Statistics (ONS)|
|Garnett Compton||Office for National Statistics (ONS)|
|Gay Moon||Equality and Diversity Forum|
|Graham Bentham||Oxfordshire County Council|
|Harri Weeks||The National LGB&T Partnership|
|Hugh Kerr||Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency (NISRA)|
|Janette Harper||Specialised Commissioning (NHS England)|
|Jon Hunter||Scottish Government|
|Dr Karen Hurrell||Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC)|
|Kevin Mantle||Government Equalities Office (GEO)|
|Kirsty MacLean||National Records of Scotland (NRS)|
|Lara Phelan||Office for National Statistics (ONS)|
|Michael J Dore||The Asexual Visibility and Education Network (AVEN)|
|Michael Rogers||The Beaumont Trust|
|Michelle Monkman||Office for National Statistics (ONS)|
|Minda Phillips||Office for National Statistics (ONS)|
|Monty Moncrieff||London Friend|
|Paula Moore||Office for National Statistics (ONS)|
|Pete Betts||Office for National Statistics (ONS)|
|Sarah Feather||East Sussex County Council|
|Sarah Honeywell||Government Equalities Office (GEO)|
|Seth Atkin||Forum for Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Equality|
|Steve Smallwood||Office for National Statistics (ONS)|
|Terry Reed||Gender Identity Research and Education Society (GIRES)|
|Prof. Wendy Sigle||London School of Economics (LSE)|