An intersex advocate is urging the intersex community to include their intersex status when filling in the Census on August 9.
In protest against the Census’ limited option of nominating as only male and female, Organisation Intersex International (OII) Australia president Gina Wilson said intersex people should record their identity in the ‘religion’ section — which allows an optional response — to point to the intersex community’s lack of inclusion.
“It’s kind of a backdoor way of tickling them along a little bit, but there are people out there who want this to be taken seriously and want it to be counted so we can even get a slight indication of the numbers,” she told the Star Observer.
Wilson said the call was inspired by a global movement in English-speaking countries for citizens to record Jedi Knight as their religion in national censuses.Wilson said there is a serious side to intersex people being excluded from the Census.
“It means, again, we’re operating in a data-free zone. Intersex is pretty much in a data-free zone anyway. There’s almost no long-term research, no follow-ups on any of the medical treatments they give us,” she said.
Other sections of the sex and gender diverse community have called on people to mark ‘no gender’ next to the question on sex. However, only marks on the Census form denoting male or female will be officially recorded.
When a person has not nominated a sex, they are allocated one using other information in the Census form and other data averages.
The Australian Bureau of Statistics was due to review the 2011 Census, including looking at references to sex, in 2007, but the review was shelved due to a lack of funding.
Transgender advocate Sally Goldner said using the religion section to record sex or gender diversity may be a wake-up call.
“If it sends a message that hey, we’re here and why aren’t these things being counted, then it’s a good thing,” she told the Star Observer.
Goldner said the issue of recording sex and gender can also be a difficult one.
“You can’t force someone to disclose, and many post-transition people don’t see themselves as transgender or sex and gender diverse any more, they see themselves as male or female anyway,” she said. “A third option of other, or a non-specified, would be a good start.”
“In the utopian world we could have two questions, your physical sex and then one about gender identity which could really wake up the whole general population but it would also give people a way of possibly recording things.”
Australian Coalition for Equality spokesman Corey Irlam said all eyes will be on the 2016 Census to include both sex and gender diverse people and to record sexuality.
“We saw $1.1 million go to LGBTI mental health this week as a direct result of a 2007 mental health survey that included sexual orientation indicators in the questions so they could see the health disparities between GLBT people and the rest of the population,” Irlam said.
“Without that information it can be very challenging for governments to make informed decisions.”