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Gender Census 2022: Worldwide report

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A photo of our planet.

The Gender Census 2022 is out and Tom Pashby has a little poke around inside of it. A very small content warning for slurs is included at the writer’s request;

The results of the Gender Census have been released and there are some surprising statistics emerging from the annual survey which covers gender identities, titles and pronouns.

The census invites participation from anyone who confirms that they “don’t really fit into just one of the two boxes of “always, solely and completely a woman/girl” or “always, solely and completely a man/boy”” and this year received 39,765 “useable” responses.

The Census 2021 — a completely separate survey — is run by the UK Government’s Office for National Statistics and is due to publish its findings on gender identity within the next few months. The results will likely provide a fascinating insight into the proportion of non-binary and other gender non-conforming people in the UK.

The Gender Census is carried out by an individual called Cassian, who makes clear that they don’t work with or represent any organisation in creating the Gender Census, and the work is made possible by their own volunteered time and money, plus donations. In the report, they explain the way they designed the gender census questions; the methodology and logic behind any recent changes to the gender census to account for things like shifting social trends within the community; and they explain their analysis of the data.

This year’s data includes participants from 134 countries. When there are less than 10 individual responses from a particular country, the country is not named in the results — instead it is added to a group called “aggregated”. This is done to reduce the risk faced by individuals in those countries. Of nearly 40,000 responses, 22,259 were from the US, 4,527 were from the UK, 2,607 from Canada, 1,789 from Germany, and 1,474 were from Australia.

Gender Identities

The most popular term used by participants to describe their gender identity remains ‘non-binary’ — at 63.9 per cent — down 4.3 per cent from the previous census. The next four most popular terms were ‘queer’ (54.6 per cent — up 6.6 per cent), ‘trans’ (38.2 per cent), ‘gender non-conforming’ (34.5 per cent) and transgender’ (33.9 per cent). In the report, the author highlights some interesting aspects of the answers around gender identity terms — specifically write-ins, slurs, and self-censoring.

Of the nearly 40,000 responses, 14,622 included a unique word to describe their gender identity. Many of these responses included slurs, which are being reclaimed by individuals to describe their gender identities, and many of these included self-censorship.

For example, with the word ‘queer’ having historically, and to a lesser extent in the present, been a slur, people variously censored themselves by using terms like ‘qu33r’ or ‘the Q slur’. This ​presented major challenges to data analysis because, with so many people doing different forms of censorship, a lot of data looks different but is indeed the same.

Titles

When asked “Supposing all title gelds on forms were optional and write your own, what would you want yours to be in English?” — the most popular open was no title at all at 38.6 per cent, followed by Mx at 20.1 per cent. Remembering that the data in the results represents a global picture, analysis in the report said “For the first time ever, Mx is lower than “no title” in the UK”.

Pronouns

They/them/their remained the most popular pronoun choice for people responding to the survey. Many respondents chose more than one set of pronouns — for example, they/them and he/him. In the top five most popular pronouns, they/them was chosen by 75.7 per cent, he/him by 40.4 per cent, she/her by 32.7 per cent, it/its 16.2 per cent and 11.2 per cent chose ‘Avoid pronouns/use name as pronoun’.

Compared over time, one of the largest changes was to the popularity of the use of ‘it/its’ as pronouns — with its usage up 6.9 from 9.3 per cent in 2021. Much of the data was split into people under or over 30 years of age, allowing some insight into generational differences between identities, pronouns and titles. They/them was used by both groups almost equally.

Neopronouns

One of the major differences between the age groups was regarding the use of neopronouns, with the report stating that “people aged 30 and under were more than twice as likely to select “a pronoun set not listed here””. Those who select that option are “guided through a separate section where they can enter all 5 forms of up to 5 neopronoun sets”.

This year’s data showed that Xe — xe/xem was used by 9.9 per cent of respondents, Fae –fae/faer by 6.1 per cent, Elverson — ey/em by 4.7 per cent, Ze — ze/hir also by 4.7 per cent, and Spivak — e/em by 3.5 per cent.

You can find full information about this year’s Gender Census global report, as well as historic reports and ways to support the project by visiting the website.

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