Australians will be able to nominate a biological sex other than male or female for the first time in Tuesday’s Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) Census 2016.
The Australian Bureau of Statistics defines respondents of the “other” sex category as “persons who have mixed or non-binary biological characteristics (if known), or a non-binary sex assigned at birth.” The third category of sex is variously described as indeterminate and intersex, the ABS says.
Those who don’t identify as male or female must contact the ABS for a code to access a special online form on which they can select the “other” response and provide more information in the “please specify” field. This option is not available on the default online form.
Those using a paper form can leave the male/female boxes unmarked and use the identity they are most comfortable with in the space to the right.
If you are using the online form and the responses of male and female do not apply to you, call the Census Inquiry Service on 1300 214 531 and ask for a Census login for the special online form. You can receive your login by SMS or email and use it to complete your Census form at census.abs.gov.au.
For more information and examples, see the ABS’ fact sheet on reporting your sex here. All personal information provided in your Census form remains strictly confidential to the ABS.
Queensland Census director Caroline Deans said the ABS was complying with the new Commonwealth Government guidelines on sex and gender, but there was a risk to data quality if the “other” option was widely available.
“I think we’re doing what we can to make sure the data counts and the process might not be exactly as people would prefer, but the important thing is that we’re giving them the opportunity to be counted as they choose to identify,” she told the ABC.
Meanwhile, Australian Marriage Equality has urged same-sex couples around the country to make sure they record their relationships in the Census, with same-sex couples who have married overseas now also able to record their marital status.
From 2011, same-sex couples have been able to record themselves in the Census as married, in addition to a de-facto relationship. In 2011, 33,714 couples reported they were in same-sex relationships.
“This is a really important opportunity to make sure Australian LGBTI couples are recognised and counted,” AME spokesperson Shirleene Robinson said.
“We ask that all same-sex couples, especially those married overseas, accurately reflect their relationship on Census night next Tuesday.
“It’s important that the Government understands the extent of same-sex relationships across Australia.”