In today’s Scottish Sun, there’s a story about the 2021 census.
Like most things the Murdoch press prints in its ongoing campaign against LGBT+ people and trans people in particular, it isn’t true. It’s just an excuse to get the usual crowd of reactionaries – anti-trans academics, vocally anti-trans MSP Joan McAlpine, the Catholic Church and the evangelical Christian Institute – to mouth off about how it’s loony left political correctness gone maaaaaaaaad.
There will not be 21 options. There will be four: straight, gay/lesbian, bisexual or other. It’s the same question and set of responses that’s been used in a range of UK surveys for many years.
The list The Sun is talking about is for predictive text in the online form. When someone types into the “Other” field, the idea is to have autocorrect suggest options that other people have used in previous surveys.
As The Equality Network explains:
The list of 21 terms that the Sun prints is a list of the most common answers that people who select Other have given in past surveys.
If you select Other in the online Census, one of those terms may pop up (as a suggestion only) if it matches the first letters you type.
This bullshit is only going to get worse now an election is looming. In September, it emerged that the Tories were polling “culture war” issues they could use to sow division via the right-wing press. Human rights for trans people is one of those issues.
Update, 31 October
The way this is playing out in print and social media tells you a great deal about the people trying to spread hate. They aren’t just anti-trans. They’re anti-LGBT+. This story isn’t about gender. It’s about sexuality. And people are trying to weaponise it against the wider LGBT+ community.
Labour activist and gay man Duncan Hothersall on Twitter:
The census sexualities question stushie is really exposing the dishonesty at the heart of the “legitimate concerns” movement. MSPs and journalists ranting about “21 different sexualities” are compounding a basic misunderstanding into a revolting, and frankly homophobic, attack.
The attacks are coming from supposed LGB supporters who don’t really like the L, the G or the B any more than they like the T. From bloggers and social media trolls who are as homophobic as they are transphobic. From people who have moved from trying to police gender to trying to police sexuality. From people sharing a platform and often an ideology with Christian fundamentalists and the far right.
As Hothersall puts it:
Anti trans rhetoric leads to anti LGB rhetoric. Excusing hate legitimises more hate. Do better.