FEATURE29 May 2019

How do you identify?

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Dr Michelle Goddard looks at the importance of researchers getting it right when asking about gender.

How do you identify

Gender identity is complex. It is defined by the Equality and Human Rights Commission as “the way in which an individual identifies with a gender category”. Based on an individual’s self-perception, it may not match the sex registered at birth. People are increasingly understanding gender in a diverse way, to include non-binary and gender-fluid identities – although this is not always the case – and discussion on the issue generates passionate, sometimes insightful, debates about what the approach should be.

Inclusive National Census 2021

Against this background, it is helpful that the England and Wales National Census 2021 will – for the first time – include a voluntary question on gender identity for over-16s.

There is ongoing testing across communities on the preferred approach, and the specific question wording is still to be determined, but this development is to be welcomed. It underscores how important it is to ensure that all members of society can see themselves reflected in this important data-collection ...