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Every decade, the Scottish Government conducts a Census – a survey of everyone living in Scotland, to find out all sorts of useful statistical information about the people who live in different parts of Scotland. The information is used to help plan how money is spent on schools, roads, healthcare and other public services.
Every house is now being sent a letter asking the householder to complete the Census questionnaire online, or alternatively to request and complete a paper version.
The information released from the Census is statistical only – no personal information is released. The individual answers and personal details that people provide are kept secure and confidential for 100 years. The answers you give to the Census do not affect your legal rights, obligations or status in any way.
It is compulsory to complete the Census. It is a criminal offence not to complete it or to give false answers. You could be fined up to £1000 for those offences.
For the first time, the Census 2022 will ask questions about sexual orientation and trans status or history, alongside a wide range of other questions that include family relationships, housing, car ownership, health, religion, race, nationality, languages used, marital or civil partnership status, caring responsibilities, education, employment status, and veteran status.
The sexual orientation and trans status questions are only for people aged 16 and over, and they are voluntary, meaning that it is not an offence to skip either of these questions.
The Equality Network has long campaigned for the sexual orientation and trans status questions to be included, so that statistics can be obtained about LGBT+ people and how we live in Scotland.
We urge LGBT+ people to complete these questions, so we can get the best possible statistics in relation to LGBT+ people and have better planned services.
Remember that your answers are kept secure and confidential for 100 years. It is a serious criminal offence for anyone involved in the administration of the Census to reveal any information from it.
The Census can be completed by the “householder” for everyone living in the house. However, that may not be appropriate in some cases.
Whatever your living circumstances, anyone aged 16 or over can privately complete their own Census questionnaire. You can find out about this, and request an individual private questionnaire, at www.census.gov.scot/individual
If you request an individual questionnaire, the rest of your household will not be informed of this. The answers you give on your individual questionnaire will override any answers about you given on the main household questionnaire. This means for example that if you are not out as LGBT+ to the people you share your house with, you can give different answers on your private individual questionnaire, and those will be the ones that are recorded.
The sexual orientation question is voluntary, and for people aged 16 or over. It says:
Which of the following best describes your sexual orientation?
Straight / Heterosexual
Gay or Lesbian
Other sexual orientation, please write in: …
If you answer “Other” you can write in the way that best describes your sexual orientation.
The trans status or history question is voluntary, and for people aged 16 or over. It says:
Do you consider yourself to be trans, or have a trans history?
(Trans is a term used to describe people whose gender is not the same as the sex they were registered at birth)
Yes, please describe your trans status (for example, non-binary, trans man, trans woman): …
If you answer “Yes” you can write in the way that best describes your trans status. This will be the only place where information about non-binary people can be counted. If you’re a non-binary person, we’d urge you to use this box.
The sex question in the Census is compulsory for everyone. It says:
What is your sex?
There is official guidance on this question for trans people. It says:
If you are transgender the answer you give can be different from what is on your birth certificate. You do not need a Gender Recognition Certificate (GRC).
If you are non-binary or you are not sure how to answer, you could use the sex registered on your official documents, such as your passport.
A voluntary question about trans status or history will follow if you are aged 16 or over. You can respond as non-binary in that question.
So if you are a trans woman or trans man, you can answer with your lived sex.
The Census organisers had initially planned to include a third, non-binary, option to the sex question, that would have allowed non-binary people to respond in the same way that trans men and trans women are able to – in a way that reflects how they live their lives. But members of a Scottish Parliament Committee objected, and they returned to only providing ‘Female’ or ‘Male’ as options.
The online version of the Census requires you to answer the sex question with Female or Male before you can go on to the next question.
You can order a paper version of the Census –
Here for a paper questionnaire for the whole household: www.census.gov.scot/paper
Or here for an individual paper questionnaire: www.census.gov.scot/individual
Remember, it is compulsory to complete the Census. It is a criminal offence not to complete it, and it is also a criminal offence to give false answers. You could be fined up to £1000 for those offences.
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Scottish Trans is part of the Equality Network
Scottish Trans is the Equality Network project to improve gender identity and gender reassignment equality, rights and inclusion in Scotland. The Equality Network is a leading Scottish lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) equality and human rights charity.
The Equality Network is a registered Scottish charity: SC037852, and a company limited by guarantee: SC220213.
We are grateful for funding from the Scottish Government