Scotland will continue with having a binary sex question on its 2021 census.
The National Records of Scotland (NRS) has quietly dropped plans to include a gender non-binary option on its next census, which is scheduled to take place in 2021.
The NRS were going to add the option, but in a statement released on Thursday (7 August), they confirmed they had dropped this idea.
In the statement, they wrote: “After careful consideration, reflecting on the Culture, Tourism, Europe and External Affairs Committee recommendation, stakeholder evidence during Stage 1 of the Census (Amendment) (Scotland) Bill, and the approach being taken in censuses for the rest of the UK, National Records of Scotland now propose to continue with a binary sex question in Scotland’s 2021 Census.”
Holyrood will still need to vote on the change, but this will be considered just a formality.
Speaking to The Guardian, James Morton of the Scottish Trans Alliance was disappointed, but broadly supportive of the move. “In an ideal world, we would have loved to see the addition of an answer option for non-binary trans people,” he said.
“However, the key issue is protecting the existing rights of trans women and trans men to answer the census with the self-identified sex in which they live.
“When combined with the additional voluntary trans status question, the self-ID sex question gives the best quality data and for the first time will enable census data comparisons between trans women, trans men, and other women and men.”
Although there won’t be a non-binary option on the next Scottish census, Scotland was the first country in the United Kingdom to legally recognise gender non-binary people.
Following a consultation by the Scottish Government, a majority agreed that citizens should have the legal right to identify as non-binary.
Moreover, two third also said they believe that the age in which people can apply to legally change their gender should be lowered from 18 to 16, reports the Scotsman.
In an independent analysis of the consultation conducted by the Scottish Government, 65 per cent of Scottish respondents said that they want to see ministers “take action to recognise non-binary people”.
What’s more, 56 per cent agreed that non-binary people should be given the legal right to legally change their gender as part of a new self-declaration system.
This would remove the need for applicants to provide medical evidence as a means to justify their gender identity.