Fighting for legal and social recognition outside the societal gender system
I want to thank everyone who responded to my recent appeal for support. The response was truly breathtaking and much better than I had expected or dared hope when it was suggested I collect “some names” as proof that life exists outside the gendered societal structure! I can confirm that all names (and addresses where provided) have now been forwarded to parliamentary office of Simon Hughes MP.
ONGOING CAMPAIGN ISSUES UPDATE
Taking this Issue to
I regard the invisibility and resultant social exclusion and disempowerment of unrecognised existence as a fundamental breach of my rights as a human being. There are clearly many others who feel the same and whose personal experiences are similar to mine.
I believe anti-discriminatory legislation is necessary in order to ensure that state institutions and commercial organisations recognise the need for the non-gendered to be able to determine our own identities and not force inappropriate gendered categorisation upon us. Legislation would also mean that gendered society could no longer so easily get away with present failure to make provision for those members of society whose identities are not recognised under the existing gendered social structure.
I approached my local parliamentary representative Simon Hughes MP in 2005.
Simon Hughes has investigated various ways of incorporating the recognition of non-gendered and non gender-specific identities into existing legislation.
As no existing legislation recognises identities outside the societal gendered structure, this has proved an extremely complicated exercise. It is also an acute demonstration of the vicious circle that is gendered society, as referenced in my presentation for Gendys2K: The Fallacy of the Myth of Gender http://www.gender.org.uk/conf/2000/elancane.htm
Progress remains painfully slow. I hope to have an update and clearer idea of how things will progress within next two weeks but make no promises, and also subject to future change.
Despite engaging in some positive dialogue with a representative of the Office for National Statistics over last eighteen months or so, the ONS Census Director (the one charged with overall responsibility for Census 2011) refused my request for a meeting on the basis the ONS had no plans to change the sex/gender question for Census 2011 questionnaire and therefore saw “little value” in arranging a meeting.
He did, however, later agree to meet with Simon Hughes MP in order to discuss a number of issues concerning Census 2011 including the addition of ‘non gender-specific’ third option for sex/gender field. I did not attend the meeting but understand ONS position on this issue to be as follows:
ONS have no plans to voluntarily introduce a non gender-specific box in the sex/gender field. One of the given ‘reasons’ being that, under The Census Act (1920), there is no legal requirement to gather information regarding sex/gendered role. The question is included on the census form (with M/F boxes provided) because end users have requested breakdown of male and female respondents for purpose of demographic information gathering. Sounds like a complete contradiction to me and not a valid reason to exclude a section of society, no matter how small and socially invisible the minority group.
The other reason ONS would not consider inclusion of non gender-specific option is because (and I’m not making it up) some gendered respondents would be unable to resist the temptation to tick this option when it does not apply to them, thus distorting the overall quality of gathered data!
Apart from the fact that it remains possible for respondents to be not entirely truthful when filling in all sections of a census questionnaire (although I’m sure the goons within the current Labour administration are busily working on devising ways of ‘correcting’ this oversight as I write) whereas we are only asking for provision of non gender-specific option to enable us to answer this question truthfully, it would appear that key decision makers at ONS would condemn us to a life of permanent social invisibility and inherent exclusion from the benefits of society as taken for granted by the gendered majority because of a possibility that some rather juvenile gendered people would tick the non gender-specific box when it doesn’t apply to them!!
It was suggested that anyone who does not identify within either gendered role could write their self-defined identity alongside M/F boxes and this will be accepted as a valid response by ONS and therefore would not invalidate the questionnaire (and the respondent would not receive a hefty fine).
I find this response totally unacceptable for following reasons: We are not being treated with same and equal level of respect as the gendered majority. The ONS’ expectation that we should scribble around the pre-printed options provided for the gendered majority does not give us parity with the gendered majority and does nothing to create greater public awareness of our existence.
Furthermore, I frankly do not believe that what is written on the questionnaire by the non-gendered respondent will actually end up on record. As already happened in most recent Australian census, an administrator will input the data of returned questionnaire onto a system that is designed to receive information as set out on the questionnaire, meaning provision for M/F options only for sex/gender question. A gendered identity would then be misappropriated and entered onto the system. Of that I am certain and I will be writing to ONS again in near future.
I understand the final decision regarding Census 2011 questionnaire content will not be made until 2010 so there remains time for everyone who cannot identify as M/F to demonstrate to ONS why this response is just not good enough.
The denial of existence is the worst act of discrimination by the gendered majority against the non-gendered.