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Census to provide gender non-binary option to better measure diversity

A gender non-binary option will be available on census night for the first time this year, while the statistics bureau has revealed plans to also start asking Australians their sex at birth to better measure diversity.

The new standard for sex, gender and sexual orientation released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics on Thursday has been introduced to tackle a data gap on gender and sex diversity of the nation’s population. This includes specifically asking about someone’s “sex recorded at birth”, and a recommendation statisticians use pronouns like “they” rather than “he” or “she” in surveys, to better include transgender, intersex and non-binary Australians in the formal database.

The statistics bureau will provide a gender non-binary option in the census and will start asking about peoples' sex recorded at birth.

The statistics bureau will provide a gender non-binary option in the census and will start asking about peoples’ sex recorded at birth.Credit:Kirk Gilmour

The 2016 Census counted just 1260 gender diverse people across the nation and the ABS later published a note warning the count of 5.4 sex or gender diverse people per 100,000 surveyed Australians was unlikely to be correct in part due to a lack of information in the answers or a lack of clarity about the way these individuals identified.

The last population survey included an “other” category in addition to the standard “female” and “male” tick boxes, but it was not provided as a standard option. It required a special form or other steps to be taken in order to be counted. The bureau flagged at the time there would need to be more changes to get better and more complete answers during the next census, leading to a standard “non-binary” option being made available.

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