Stop the ONS redefining sex in the Census

by Fair Play For Women in London, England, United Kingdom

Stop the ONS redefining sex in the Census
We did it
On 3rd March 2021 we successfully raised £101,000 with 3259 supporters in 14 days

Fair Play For Women needs to raise funds for an emergency judicial review of the definition of sex being used in the Census 2021.

by Fair Play For Women in London, England, United Kingdom

New stretch target


After obtaining expert legal advice we believe the Office For National Statistics (ONS) has acted unlawfully.

ONS will be invited to back down and withdraw the offending elements of the guidance accompanying the sex question, failing which we will be applying for a expedition order in the high court for an emergency judicial review. 

Given the unusual speed at which this case has to take place we will need to prepare evidence on an at risk basis. We need to seek a trial before the Census on 21st March.

Preliminary legal opinion has been paid for from our existing funds. We now need to raise an additional £70,000 in 2 weeks to cover legal costs. 

Our barrister has been instructed. Our pre-action letter is in progress and further details of our legal grounds will be published here as soon as possible.

If any funds are left over after the legal action they will be used for other Fair Play For Women campaigns.

Here's some background on why we need to bring this claim:

For over 200 years the Census has asked “What is your sex”. This year there will also be an voluntary question about gender identity. Two questions about two different concepts giving us lots of useful information. One question about facts – the sex you were born. One question about feelings – how people identify and live. The extra question will give us our first accurate indication of the size of the trans community. A move that is welcomed by everyone. 

So what's the problem? The problem is that Stonewall say it's not enough that trans people have their own gender identity question. They think transgender people should be allowed to answer BOTH questions according to gender identity. They say it's simply too offensive and hurtful to ask a trans person a factual question about sex they were born.

This has alarmed scientists who need accurate data split by sex. Last year 80 senior academics, including Professors from top universities, wrote to the ONS saying they mustn’t do this. 

ONS ignored the experts and listened to Stonewall instead. There will once again be guidance on the sex question telling people it’s ok to answer with a gender identity instead of their sex.

ONS confirmed on 12th February that the guidance accompanying the longstanding sex question will carry the following wording:

“If you are considering how to answer, use the sex recorded on one of your legal documents such as a birth certificate, Gender Recognition Certificate, or passport.

While this is a tighter definition than the guidance used in 2011, the wording is ambiguous. The guidance provides three examples, only two of which are consistent with the EHRC definition of ‘legal sex’ (birth certificate or a GRC). In the case of passports, a person’s sex marker can be changed without acquisition of a GRC. The words ‘such as’ suggest that there are other ‘legal documents’ that could form the basis for answering the sex question, all of which can be updated by self-declaration.

This is sex self-ID through the back door. 

Following a public consultation on GRA reform the government decided legal sex should not be self-identified. Shockingly, the ONS has done the opposite and decided it can redefine sex to include self-declared gender identity.

If we don't have good data on sex we can't monitor inequalities due to sex. If we can't prove inequality exists we can't remedy it. Sex matters.

It cannot be wrong to ask people what sex they were born. We need to know it. We need be able to ask it. It really is as simple as that. Our Chief Statistician should be prioritising facts not feelings. And the public needs to trust that our national statistics are free from interference by ideological pressure groups.

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