Saving this here because we think it’s so good!
Joan McAlpine MSP
Thread: Re Sex and the Census. For many individuals identity is very personal and important and the 2021 census will allow those people to express a trans identity for the first time. All good so far…
But sex and identity are not the same thing and require separate questions. Biological sex is an important demographic variable needed to record & plan services and understand different population trends. @NatRecordsScot themselves say this
So the sex question should stay binary. Non binary people can express their identity in the trans question. Non binary people still have a physical sex. I note that non binary is listed as part of Stonewall’s “trans umbrella”. It’s an identity.
Individual census returns remain confidential for 100 years. Many respondants might find other mandatory questions about illness, ethnicity & personal circumstances sensitive and difficult. But they answer them knowing their privacy is protected.
During evidence I asked @LGBTIScotland how @PippaBunce should answer the census sex question if they identified as woman one day and man the next. I was told they would be non binary. But Bunce still has a biological sex which would then not be recorded.
Recording birth sex is important to monitor sex discrimination and the Equality Act 2010. Women experience discrimination on the basis of biology, not how they identify (although trans people experience discrimination too, it is of a different type)
The census sets an important precedent. How can we defend the Equality Act, which clearly gives women protections based on biological sex, if we have said this definition of sex is irrelevant to our largest data gathering exercise?
Sex exemptions in the Equality Act are vital for privacy & dignity in shared spaces also “occupation exemptions” for jobs supporting vulnerable females. This matters as more men self ID as women while retaining male bodies and male genitals
Those pushing to change census sex question to an identity question ie @ScottishTrans and @stonewalluk told Westminster Women & Equality’s Committee occupational/single sex exemptions in the Equality Act should be dropped. See here
These same groups are key government stakeholders. They receive significant government funding and shape equality policies, including those affecting women. They were consulted about these changes to sex question in census to the exclusion of anyone else
Some lesbian and gay folk I speak dont share this dismissal of biological sex – if you cannot define sex how can you define sexual orientation? @ons make similar point when they said keep census binary here
Also people with Differences of Sexual Development were ignored in the census consultation which said “intersex” was same as trans. Vast majority are male or female, less than 1:5500 babies have difficult-to-determine sex – see here
There is a view among some DSD reps I spoke to that there is an attempt to misrepresent their conditions to push unscientific claims that “sex is a spectrum” & lots of folk are “intersex”, itself a term which DSD Families say is confusing and unhelpful
Sex is binary. Using the 1 in 5500 babies to claim sex is a spectrum is like saying human beings dont have ten toes because some human beings are born with more than ten toes, or less.
Lastly I am disappointed with the “official” women’s groups who have embraced concept of sex self ID, even though the GRA is unchanged and self ID has no legal weight. I was told these groups will not accept membership from women with different view.
They will not listen to concerns of many ordinary women in Scotland who fear that the definition of female is being replaced with a concept of “gender identity” based on 1950s sexist stereotypes. This is not a feminism I recognise.
@EngenderScot which receives significant government funding to represent women and girls didn’t submit evidence for census bill until after deadline passed. It appeared is if they only intervened when the committee was challenging the self ID narrative…
It was left to newly formed, unfunded, female rights groups like @ForwomenScot -and academics like @GoonerProf@kathmurray1 – to articulate what many women are too scared to say. They were respectful of trans people and supported asking the trans question.
Despite this respectful approach, some suggest these women should not give evidence to parliament. That is worrying when you consider policy in this area has been subject to “capture” by a tiny number of stakeholders with similar views
Finally, You can read the @SP_European report here
On behalf of For Women Scotland – thank you Joan!