Free sex change and relationship breakup, thanks to the census


It appears that the Office for National Statistics, when reporting on census data, will simply get their computer try to guess at what people intended.

If you’re a gay man and ticked the married box then the Office for National Statistics will ensure the “mismatch is… resolved using a probabilistic statistical system [to] alter one or more variables to make the response consistent“. And yes, they specifically state this could result in the system “changing the sex of one individual“.

This completely ignores the fact that married – not just Civil Partnered – couples of the same sex are entirely valid. Perhaps it’s a foreign marriage, or you’re Trans and married but don’t have a GRC for any of a whole host of reasons?

Oh, and they might divorce you anyway: If you indicate multiple relationships (A Poly household for example) they’ll just pick one to ensure everyone is in nice neat couples for their system. I guess anything else would just be Too Complicated for the statisticians.

I’ve submitted a followup FoI request to find out how common this has been in previous years. (Although previous years will not have had Civil Partner as an option)

Lies, damned lies and statistics?

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  1. #1 by Dan Q on 13 May 2011 - 15:26

    I can’t begin to explain how angry I am with their response (although I’ve had a go). How incredibly narrow-minded! Thank you for keeping on top of your FoI request, for the benefit of all of us.

    I suppose that the slight silver lining is that the historical record will be kept intact, so that those of us who filled in our censuses correctly (but in a way that they will treat as erroneous) have left an accurate record for future statisticians who might be a little less-bigoted.

  2. #2 by Liz Church on 15 May 2011 - 20:42

    I remember fiddling data in an A-level physics practical class to get it to fit Stokes’ Law. Of course, it didn’t matter then. The ONS think they’re paying me a visit in June. Not now they won’t be…

  3. #3 by Phoebe Queen on 16 May 2011 - 11:15

    Lying bullshit artists. There’s nothing illegal about being married and having another partner. Discussed this one at length with the Manchester registry office before getting married. In fact it was suggested that the fact that I knew full well that my wife had other partners when I married her and am quite happy for this to remain the case probably means i’d have a hard time if I wanted a divorce arguing that her “adultery” (or mine, although I haven’t had another partner since we got married) was of sufficient significance for us to divorce over it.

(will not be published)


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