2021 census will ask your gender identity The Times 16.12.18

The original article is here.

Everyone aged 16 and over will be asked in the 2021 census if they wish to declare their gender identity. There will also be a new voluntary question about sexual orientation.

The move comes after the Government Equalities Office said no robust data on the UK transgender population existed. It estimates the number at between 200,000 and 500,000.

Since the 2004 Gender Recognition Act, 4,910 trans people have been issued with a gender recognition certificate confirming a change to their legal gender.

This has entailed a medical diagnosis of gender dysphoria, a report from a doctor about any medical treatment and proof of having lived in the acquired gender for two years. Also required are a promise to live in the new gender until death and, if married, consent from the spouse.

The government has stirred controversy with a consultation on streamlining the process by reducing the involvement of doctors and putting greater weight on self-identification.

It has not yet announced its conclusions.

There has been a sharp increase in the number of children referred to the NHS gender identity development service, to 2,519 in 2017-18. Most are aged 14-17. They must wait until 18 for gender reassignment surgery.

The ONS has previously warned of challenges in collecting data, as there are “a variety of stages through which an individual may transition on their journey from one gender identity to another”.

Sir David Norgrove, chairman of the UK Statistics Authority, which oversees the census, said the findings would help the authorities “for planning and targeting resources”.

The 2021 census will also collect information on veterans of the UK armed forces for the first time, to enable better monitoring of the armed forces covenant.

The ONS said it had always been its intention that the new questions would be voluntary, as is an existing question on religious identity. The plans are set out in a white paper published on Friday.

•Scrabble will embrace gender neutral language from May, when its new dictionary will include “ze” for the first time. Expert players predict the pronoun will prove popular because of the high score it will attract.