Analysis of non-binary sex responses in the 2021 Census

Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), Released 27/09/2022

The 2021 Census allowed all respondents to select from three response options for the sex question: male, female and non-binary sex. The purpose of the addition of the non-binary sex option was to allow respondents to participate in the Census when the male or female sex categories did not accurately describe their sex.

As described in Non-binary sex in the 2021 Census, the sex question asked in the 2021 Census was not intended or designed to collect data on gender.

For the reasons outlined below, the ABS does not believe results from the 2021 non-binary sex category provide data of high enough quality to be used:

  • The non-binary sex option was marked on the Census form for 43,220 respondents or 0.17% of the Australian population. Analysis indicates this number is not indicative of any single characteristic.
  • Responses show the concept of non-binary sex was not consistently understood and was perceived in different ways by different people.
  • Results cannot be used as a measure of gender diversity, non-binary genders or trans populations.
  • Additionally, it cannot be used as a measure for diverse sexualities, nor can it be interpreted as the number of people with variations of sex characteristics.
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By J Pope

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