In Brief

Sex question to become optional on census

Britain to be first country not to require people to officially state their gender

The UK is to become the first country not to require people to declare their gender, after reports the Office for National Statistics (ONS) is going to make the question voluntary in the next census in 2021.

In a report leaked to The Sunday Times, the ONS says the existing census question, which requires respondents to choose whether they are male or female, was “considered to be irrelevant, unacceptable and intrusive, particularly to trans participants, due to asking about sex rather than gender”.

The report also rejects adding a third choice of “other”, saying that would differentiate trans people from the rest of society.

 The report comes after complaints that the binary question discriminates against transgender or non-binary people.

However, the proposal to make the question voluntary has been greeted “with horror by some feminists, who see it as part of a growing trend to remove all mention of the biological female sex”, reports The Sunday Times.

Germaine Greer told the paper biological women are “losing out everywhere”, adding: “I’m sick and tired of this. We keep arguing that women have won everything they need to win. They haven’t even won the right to exist.”

In the last census, more than four million people failed to answer the only voluntary question, “What is your religion?” It is feared the proposed change will leave Britain without an accurate figure for the number of men and women living in the country.

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