Draft guidance on collecting sex and gender data – feedback

The Scottish Government’s Sex and Gender in Data Working Group asked for feedback on their Draft Guidance. Our submission is as follows, and can also be downloaded as a pdf:

Sex:
It is disappointing that the Draft Guidance does not give clear definitions for the terms sex, gender and gender identity, preferring instead to rely upon definitions provided by a range of other organisations, and without specifying an agreed definition to be used consistently by all organisations using the guidance.

The references cited from the World Health Organisation, the Royal Statistical Society, and the USA Federal Interagency Working Group on Improving Measurement of Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity in Federal Surveys all state that sex refers to biological characteristics yet the Draft incorrectly introduces a statement that this objective and biological classification can instead be an emotional feeling. 

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Letter to Health and Sport Committee

Following the confusion about sex and gender after media reports on the Committee’s meeting to scrutinise the Forensic Medical Services (Victims of Sexual Offences) (Scotland) Bill, we wrote the following letter to the Committee on 26th June. It has now been published on the Committee’s page. A copy has also been sent to the Sex and Gender in Data Working Group.

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Police Scotland

Following Joan McAlpine’s Paliamentary Question on 13th March which discovered that Police Scotland and the Scottish Courts and Tribunal Service both record incidents on the basis of self-declared gender identity rather than sex, one of our members sought further clarification.

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Gender Lessons in Schools

In August, The Scotsman reported on the new RSHP guidance (https://rshp.scot) which is set to be rolled out in schools.

Of concern was the section on gender in the level one guidance aimed at Primary One aged children. Despite a seeming ignorance about how sex is observed either before or after birth and by whom, this started off promisingly, telling children that they are not limited by their sex and that they can participate in any activities or wear any clothing. However, the guidance became muddled when it started to talk about gender, saying that “your gender is what you decide” and that sometimes when people grow up “they decide to change their gender so that they are happier with who they are, this is called being transgender”:

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