Monica Doumit: Gathering statistics for the naked emperor

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A couple pictured after the annual Marriage Mass on July 2, 2017 at St Mary’s Cathedral, Sydney. PHOTO: Giovanni Portelli

Friends, the post- same-sex marriage world is a brave, new one. This is what we are seeing coming from the United Kingdom at the moment.

I’m not sure if you saw what is happening with the UK Census.

In 2015, the UK Office of National Statistics conducted a consultation about what additional questions/topics should be included in the next decennial census, due to be taken in 2021. Gender identity was one set of data it thought necessary to include, and so research began on the best way to capture this in the census.

Last month, the ONS released The Qualitative research on gender identity: phase 1 summary report.

The report was based on qualitative research with a number of focus groups, and one-on-one interviews with transgender persons.

In it, three different options to capture the picture for the transgender population were posed.

The first option was to leave the question that appeared in the 2011 census unchanged. That question asked: “What is your sex?” and gives two options, male and female.

Feminist groups have pushed back against calls to eliminate references to gender and “woman” in the UK.

The ONS report called this question “irrelevant, unacceptable and intrusive” when it came to the transgender community, and so this option was dismissed.

The second option was to ask the same question, i.e. “What is your sex?” but to include three options, being male, female and “other.”

The ONS report again called this “irrelevant and intrusive,” and said that having a singular category of “other” meant that those in the transgender community would be considered a homogenous group rather than individuals each with their unique identities.

The final option was to have a two-step question. The first question would be the same as the 2011 census, i.e. “What is your sex?” and gives the options of male and female.

A follow up question asks: “Which of the following options best describes how you think of your gender identity?” and gives the options of male, female, or “in another way.”

The ONS report called this an improvement, but said issues remained.

These include the same issues with the 2011 census question about sex (irrelevant, unacceptable and intrusive), and also that the double-header question – if the answers were mismatched – would make a person’s transgender identity visible, and some did not want that.

The ONS report also included a comment that this could be in breach of the Gender Recognition Act, which makes it illegal to require someone to reveal the sex they were assigned at birth.

As a conclusion, the report recommended that none of the three options be used in the 2021 census, declaring that “even if it is not possible to meet data requirements, change should be made to better meet the needs of trans respondents…”.

Just let that sink in for a moment.

What or who is left out when gender is eliminated as a sensible category?

It is preferable for the data to not be collected, better for the raison d’etre of the census to be ignored, than to get the gender stuff wrong.

I’m not dismissing the real struggles of people with gender dysphoria, but it becomes a little strange to think that it is now seemingly impossible to ask something as basic – and necessary – as the sex question on the census without offending anyone.

The question on the census is not irrelevant: it assists in planning for life expectancy, pensions, education and healthcare.

Without this information, it makes planning for the future a lot more difficult or near impossible.

What it tells us is that same-sex marriage is not the final frontier when it comes to the push for LGBTI rights.

As I have been trying to illustrate over the last few weeks, changing the law has consequences. In this instance, when you remove gender from marriage – the last law we have that considers gender difference to be meaningful – the government finds other ways to make gender irrelevant, and even unmentionable.

It’s not just the census.

Last week, the UK government proposed to the United Nations that references to “pregnant women” in human rights instruments be replaced with references to “pregnant people,” so as not to exclude transgender men who still have the ability to bear children.

This has been criticised by feminist groups that object to the removing women from the conversation.

But it is the logical consequence of removing gender from marriage; of course mothers and pregnant “women” become irrelevant and unmentionable if you pass a law that says that gender is irrelevant to marriage.

It’s not like the UK government has anywhere to go except to descend further into this craziness.

Fortunately, Australia still has a chance to say ‘no.’

If you haven’t yet posted your ‘no’ vote, it’s not too late.

Post it today to ensure that Australia is protected from the many consequences of redefining marriage.