According to this article, gender identity might de facto replace the sex at birth based on responder choice:

Scotland’s chief statistician recently issued guidance stating that data on sex should only be collected in exceptional circumstances.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) was also embroiled in controversy when it proposed to guide respondents to the 2021 England and Wales census that they may answer the sex question in terms of their subjective gender identity, rather than their sex.

The same article mentions that quantitative social scientists are troubled by such a change:

(quantitative social scientists) who believe that data on sex is vitally important and that data on both gender identity and sex is needed

I have tried finding similar examples outside of the UK and the closest I could find are in Canada, where the public awareness and sensitivity towards LGBTQ2 communities has grown substantially. However, they seem to favor having both "sex at birth" and "gender identity" related questions:

What was this person’s sex at birth? and "What is this person’s gender?"


1 Answer 1


I wouldn't say anyone is replacing "sex at birth" anywhere, as that has never been a category to begin with.

In the UK census, the question is - and has been - What is your sex? - not "What was your sex at birth?"

The same is true for the US, which asks What is Person 1's sex? - not "What was person 1's sex at birth?" Same for eg Germany, which also asks What sex/gender [it's the same word in German] do you have?.

So the question is - and has been - aimed at the present, not at the past. And it doesn't define sex. It doesn't say if it's based on hormones, genitals (internal), genitals (external), chromosomes, secondary sex characteristics, etc. So it has always been open to interpretation (esp. for trans and intersex people; eg a post-op trans woman on hrt would - and probably should - put down "female" as sex; if you eg look at the last link for the US census, most of the reasons for this question relate to current sex - not sex at birth - and a trans woman incorrectly putting down "male" would distort the data).

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    Also worth noting that the accuracy rate of census data is on the same order of magnitude as the incidence rate of transgender identity. So, simple "fill in the wrong box by accident" error is likely to add so much noise to the data that this definitional issue is indistinguishable in the overall results. See, e.g., the sources cited in washparkprophet.blogspot.com/2008/03/rare-and-different.html
    – ohwilleke
    Jan 10, 2022 at 20:53

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