Last week, the Office for National Statistics published the data on gender identity in England and Wales, as revealed in the latest UK census. For the first time ever, the census included the following question: ‘Is the gender you identify with the same as your sex registered at birth?’ This was asked of those aged 16 and over and 45.7 million people, about 94 per cent of the total, answered. In total, 45.4 million (93.5 per cent) answered yes and 262,000 (0.5 per cent) answered no.
The lobby group Stonewall welcomed the news. ‘It’s incredible to see the true size of the LGBTQ+ community,’ it tweeted. But it must have come as something of a blow, since Stonewall had previously said the size of the country’s trans and non-binary population is 600,000. If we assume the percentage of people who would have answered no to the question in Scotland and Northern Ireland was the same, that would bring the total to about 300,000 in the UK.
But if you drill down into the census data, the number identifying as trans or non-binary is even lower. When those who’d answered no were asked what gender they identified as, 48,000 ticked ‘trans man’, 48,000 ‘trans woman’ and 30,000 ‘non–binary’. The rest either didn’t specify or wrote in another gender. So the actual number identifying as trans and non-binary in England and Wales is 126,000, or 0.26 per cent.
Which makes you wonder what all the fuss is about. Why have politicians been tying themselves in knots about how to define a woman, why has the government been agonising over reforming the Gender Recognition Act since 2018 – and why has Nicola Sturgeon used up what little political capital she has left on railroading through a bill that would lower the age at which a person can apply to change their gender and make it easier to get a gender recognition certificate? There can’t be many votes in it.