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#LGBTsurvey: asking about your sex and gender identity

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On Sunday, we launched a national survey for LGBT people living in the UK. We created it because we want to find out what it is really like living as an LGBT person in the UK.

We have been working on the survey for several months. Now that it has been launched, we wanted to tell you about how we made it. We will be writing several blog posts over the next 12 weeks talking about how we designed the survey. We wanted to start with one of the first things you see in the survey: questions about your sex and gender.

If you identify as having a minority sexual orientation or gender identity, you are 16 years old or over, and you have not completed the survey yet, it is open until 15 October 2017. Find the survey on GOV.UK.

Questions about sex and gender

We wanted to make sure everyone could express their identity in a way they wanted. We also needed a reliable way of understanding whether people were transgender or not, so we could ask them questions specifically about their experience of being trans.

For this reason, we ask two questions at the start of the survey. One on gender identity and one on sex assigned at birth.

Gender identity question

The first question we ask is about your current gender identity — how you personally describe your gender.

This question is about your gender identity. Do you identify as:

  • woman/girl
  • man/boy
  • transwoman/transgirl
  • transman/transboy
  • non-binary/genderqueer/agender/gender fluid
  • don’t know
  • prefer not to say
  • other

We wanted this question to be as broad and as inclusive as possible. We spoke to organisations representing transgender people to help us develop the question. We have also provided a free text option if people wish to describe their gender in a different way.

Sex assigned at birth question

The next question in the survey is about the sex you were assigned at birth. The question is:

What was your sex assigned at birth:

  • female
  • male
  • don’t know
  • prefer not to say

We use this language because you are given a legal sex at birth, which your parents must register on your birth certificate. The only legally recognised options for sex in the UK are ‘female’ and ‘male’, which is why these are the only options to choose from.

Why we chose these questions

Our conversations with LGBT stakeholders, and our own review of best practice guidance from various organisations, showed us that asking direct questions about people’s transgender identity might be confusing or put off people answering the survey. We had to find a different way of asking the question to make sure we did not exclude anyone unintentionally.

The way we designed the questions gave the additional opportunity to understand whether someone has transitioned to female or male.

This is the first time we have ever tried to run a survey on this scale specifically for LGBT people. We have found new and unique challenges in designing questions that are understandable for anyone and inclusive of everyone. We would be really interested to hear your feedback about the choices we have made, so we can improve our questions for any future surveys or consultations we run for LGBT people. The best way to get in touch is to write to us.

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