Trans population may be ‘significantly overestimated’ in 2021 census – fears of transgender issues are ‘exaggerated’
- The ONS suggested there are 262,000 transgender people in England and Wales
- Carl Heneghan said the ONS findings may be ‘biased’ based on validity tests
MPs and campaigners yesterday raised concerns about an “exaggerated” focus on transgender issues, as official statistics revealed that official statistics may have “significantly overestimated” the trans population.
Findings from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) suggesting there are 262,000 transgender people in England and Wales should be ‘treated with caution’, academics said.
Carl Heneghan, director of Oxford University’s Center for Evidence-Based Medicine, said the ONS findings may be “biased” because it does no fieldwork to test their validity.
He supported Michael Biggs – an Oxford senior lecturer in sociology – who believes the question used to record gender identity in the 2021 census has confused respondents whose main language was not English.
Both academics believe this could explain why the London boroughs of Newham and Brent, where many speak English as a second language, recorded the highest percentage of transgender people in the UK. It could also explain why one in 67 Muslims said they were transgender, they said.
Carl Heneghan (pictured), director of Oxford University’s Center for Evidence-Based Medicine, said the ONS findings could be ‘biased’ because it doesn’t do fieldwork to test their validity
Professor Heneghan told the Daily Mail: ‘In research we normally triangulate data. So you take statistics and you do fieldwork to test the validity of the data. Until that is done, it should be treated with caution.
“There is no way for the ONS to know whether the information entered into the survey is correct or not, although their data – the math they do – is correct, there is a bias if the information entered into it is incorrect. No one can say for sure that these numbers are correct. It seems like a big overestimate.’
The academics said the potentially flawed numbers probably stemmed from the question asked. Instead of keeping it simple with a question like “Are you transgender?”, respondents were asked, “Is the gender you identify with the same as your registered gender at birth?”
Dr. Biggs claimed that this question came about after consultation with transgender rights lobby groups and that the ONS had “never thought about how a Bangladeshi grandmother or a Hungarian plumber will feel about this issue.”
Other ‘anomalies’ included Brighton and Hove – home to the country’s longest-running Trans Pride celebration – with the twentieth largest trans population.
Dr. Biggs told The Spectator magazine that the ONS data was “barely credible.”
The ONS published figures in January showing that 262,000 people, or 0.5 percent of the population over 16, have declared themselves as transgender. It was based on responses to the 2021 census.
Of the 262,000, 118,000 gave no additional details, while 48,000, or 0.1 percent of the population aged 16 and older, identified as trans man.
Other ‘anomalies’ included Brighton and Hove – home to the country’s longest-running Trans Pride celebration – with the twentieth largest trans population. Pictured: The annual Brighton Pride parade
In all, 48,000 identified as trans women, 30,000 as non-binary, and 18,000 wrote down another identity.
Those who speak poor English were five times more likely to be trans.
Adults whose native language was not English made up 10 percent of the population, but made up 29 percent of the total number of trans people. Tory MP Sir John Hayes said: ‘We need statistics that reflect reality.’ And Stephanie Davies-Arai, of campaign group Transgender Trend, said: “I think the ONS has made a fool of itself.”
The Bureau of Statistics is investigating the findings of the ONS.
The ONS said the results of the census on gender identity were ‘broadly consistent with NHS data collected in the same year’.
A spokesperson said: “While the gender identity question has been thoroughly tested, it is possible that individual answers were influenced by different interpretations of the question and we will do more work to understand whether that was an issue.”