‘Garbage data’: ABS under fire over ‘non-binary’ census question

An ABS spokeswoman mentioned the bureau wouldn’t be together with a non-binary intercourse depend within the first launch of the 2021 census information subsequent Tuesday.

“The data collected from the sex question will be reported in the 2021 census data releases as ‘Male’ and ‘Female’,” the spokeswoman mentioned.

LGBTQI teams need the subsequent census to incorporate questions on gender id, sexual orientation and intersex standing. Credit:iStock

“Later this year, the ABS in consultation with key stakeholders in the LGBTQI+ community to understand the complexities, data quality and usefulness of the data.”

Roen Meijers, who identifies as non-binary, mentioned the non-binary intercourse query would produce “garbage data” of extraordinarily little utility.

“I am very well-educated on questions of gender and sexuality and I had no idea how they wanted me to answer that question,” mentioned Meijers, who made historical past in 2019 as the primary particular person in Tasmania to have their start certificates record their gender as one thing apart from male or feminine.


“I have concerns about how the data will be misunderstood, misconstrued and misused.”

NSW One Nation chief Mark Latham has repeatedly and falsely mentioned the 2016 census confirmed solely 1300 Australians recognized as transgender.

In that census 1260 respondents listed their intercourse or gender as one thing apart from male or feminine whereas an additional 2400 ticked each female and male containers. A separate on-line kind was required to file a intercourse apart from male or feminine.

The ABS later acknowledged the figures didn’t precisely measure the variety of folks in Australia with a intercourse or gender apart from male or feminine.

Cody Smith, senior initiatives officer at Intersex Human Rights Australia, mentioned they have been extraordinarily pissed off by the “non-binary” intercourse query.

Cody Smith, who is intersex, said they were extremely frustrated by the phrasing of the census sex question.

Cody Smith, who’s intersex, mentioned they have been extraordinarily pissed off by the phrasing of the census intercourse query.

Smith mentioned the time period non-binary almost at all times refers back to the gender id of people that don’t establish as completely male or feminine. Intersex, in the meantime, describes folks whose innate intercourse traits don’t match medical and social norms for feminine or male our bodies.

“Non-binary sex is not language that either group would use for themselves,” mentioned Smith, who’s intersex.

Accurate figures have been important when lobbying for extra funding for LGBTQI companies, Smith mentioned.


The 2021 census didn’t embody any particular questions on whether or not folks establish as homosexual, lesbian, bisexual or transgender.

Anna Brown, chief government of Equality Australia, mentioned the intercourse query was complicated and rendered transgender Australians largely invisible.

“This means that next week’s census results won’t reflect the gender diversity in the Australian community – a missed opportunity to inform crucial decisions about what services are provided to our communities and where,” she mentioned.

The subsequent census ought to embody separate questions on gender id in addition to questions on sexual orientation and intersex standing, she mentioned.

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