2071.0 - Census of Population and Housing: Reflecting Australia - Stories from the Census, 2016  
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SEX AND GENDER DIVERSITY IN THE 2016 CENSUS


A question on Sex has been included in every Australian Census, since the first one in 1911. The Census is authorised to collect information specifically on Sex through the Census Regulations. Self-reported sex (or, in many cases, gender) is used for a range of purposes including population projections, estimates of life expectancy, family structure and gender comparisons.

Until the 2016 Census, there were few ways of reporting anything other than male or female.

This article was first released in June 2017 and was updated in December 2017 to include additional information on reported descriptions of sex and gender diversity. The article was also updated with two attachments. Attachment 1 outlines the questions and procedures for the different Census forms. Attachment 2 gives more detail on data quality investigations and descriptions of sex and gender diversity.

Throughout this article, sex refers to a person's biological characteristics and gender refers to the way a person identifies their masculine or feminine characteristics. More detailed definitions are in the Explanatory Information at the end of this article.

Key highlights

  • The 2016 Census was an important step on a journey to collect Australian statistics on sex and gender diversity. The ABS will continue to improve future collection and processing of this information based on this experience.
  • The 2016 Census counted 1,260 sex and/or gender diverse people in Australia.
  • This count is not considered to be an accurate count, due to limitations around the special procedures and willingness or opportunity to report as sex and/or gender diverse. People who have been treated with disrespect, abuse and discrimination because of their sex or gender may be unwilling to reveal their sex in an official document.
  • Several innovations were made in the collection of Sex in the 2016 Census.
    • It was the first Australian Census to have a response option available on the online form for sex other than male or female, via a special online form with an 'Other' response option to the Sex question.
    • A pilot test was conducted during the 2016 Census to test responses among the wider population. Pilot test dwellings used the special online form with an 'Other' response option to the Sex question, which did not involve any special procedures.
    • It was the first Australian Census to release these results.
  • Respondents generally needed to take extra steps and have knowledge of special procedures to report their sex as other than male or female. An 'Other' response category was not included as a standard response option because of uncertainty about how the general public would respond to a question with an explicit 'other' option. The reaction of the general public was explored through the pilot test
  • Some 35% of sex/gender diverse people indicated they were non-binary or another gender. A further 26% reported they were trans male, trans female or transgender.
  • There was much a higher rate of sex/gender diverse people in the pilot test - over 50 times as likely as the rest of Australia. However, 84% of pilot test participants did not provide a further description of their sex/gender diversity (e.g. intersex, trans), much higher than the rest of Australia.
  • The ABS has worked with the community on this topic, and their input is gratefully acknowledged.
  • There will be one other article on sex and gender diversity - providing more information on socio-demographic characteristics of sex and gender diverse people.


AIMS OF THE 2016 CENSUS

There has been increasing recognition of sex and gender social issues in Australia. In November 2015, the Australian Attorney General's Department updated the Australian Government Guidelines on the Recognition of Sex and Gender, which required Australian Government departments and agencies to progressively align their existing and future business practices with the Guidelines. Accordingly, the aim of the 2016 Census was to make it possible for all Australians to report their sex in a way not limited to ‘male’ or ‘female’.

For the 2016 Census, the ABS:
  • recognised that individuals may identify as a sex or gender other than the sex they were assigned at birth, or may not identify as exclusively male or female
  • provided methods for all form types so that people could record their sex in the way each thought most appropriate.

In addition, the ABS aimed for the 2016 Census to gather information that would assist the design of questions, expand the Standard Classification of Sex and Gender, and support more informed collection of information on sex and gender in future ABS collections.


LIMITATIONS OF COLLECTING SEX AND GENDER IN THE CENSUS

Collecting accurate information on either sex or gender in the Australian Census has many challenges. Most households complete the Census without contact with an interviewer or any interaction with ABS staff. This means that the ABS cannot answer any questions from the respondent or explain any of the Census questions – for example, explaining the difference between sex and gender.

In households, it is common for one person to complete responses on behalf of other household members, who may not know or respect how these other household members would report their sex or gender. This means that some people might not have had the opportunity to report their own sex or gender. Household forms may also introduce privacy concerns for some individuals. While the ABS had arrangements to provide private forms on request, some respondents may not have been aware of these or may have chosen not to take this additional step.

The Census forms have limited space, due both to the physical limitations of the paper form and also the risk that completion rates would decrease if households felt the Census form was too intrusive or too long. This space limitation means that often only one question can be asked on a topic, even when multiple questions would be clearer.

There is personal choice in relation to reporting as male or female. For example, a person who is intersex may not identify themselves as other than male or female due to issues such as acceptance of their assigned sex or previous discrimination.

The 2016 Census is the first Australian Census that has released statistics on sex/gender diversity. The ABS did not expect the 2016 Census to be able to provide an accurate measure of the number of people with other than strictly male or female sex or gender.


APPROACH TO THE 2016 CENSUS

The ABS made a number of changes to the approach to collecting information about sex in the 2016 Census. Procedures were developed and refined through engagement with a number of stakeholders. Their contribution is gratefully acknowledged.

The 2016 Census aimed to have most people complete the Census online. Thus, the ABS focussed on ensuring that the online form facilitated the ABS’ aim of supporting people in responding as other than male or female.

A special online form was developed that contained three response options to the Sex question: Male, Female and Other (please specify). This online form was available to households or individual respondents on an opt-in basis by contacting the Census Inquiry Service or submitting an online assistance request. This special procedure was implemented because of uncertainty about how the general public would respond to a question with an explicit 'other' option. The 2016 Census was the first time an online option was available to collect this information. Sex is an important item which feeds into estimation of the resident population and is essential for most socio-demographic analysis of Census data.

Nearly two in every three persons (63%) in occupied private dwellings were counted on the online Census form, and in every online form there was advice on how to report as other than male or female. In addition, the ABS developed 'How to Answer' instructions which were on the ABS website and in a fact sheet distributed to stakeholders.

As the Census paper forms were printed before the procedures were finalised, the paper form did not provide any instructions about the special procedures. The 'How to Answer' instructions mentioned above provided directions on how to report other than male or female on the paper form. However, these instructions were not distributed with paper forms and respondents needed to take the initiative to find these instructions. The special instructions for the paper form were to leave the male and female boxes unmarked and write the response in the space to the right of the response box.

Attachment 1 provides images of the Sex question for online, paper and interviewer administered Census forms.

For both paper and online forms, the 'How to Answer' instructions asked respondents to provide the term they were most comfortable with.

The ABS tried to ensure that Census field officers, call centre staff and office staff were all aware of the special procedures and able to sensitively support members of the public.

The ABS changed data capture and processing procedures to ensure that responses to the Sex question would be accurately captured and could be analysed.

The ABS also conducted a small pilot test during the operations of the 2016 Census to test responses among the wider population and to gain insights to guide future data collection of sex or gender. Further information on the pilot test can be found later in this article.

The 2016 Census is the first time that Census data has been made public on the number and characteristics of people who report they are neither male nor female. Data is being released via this article and a further analytical article scheduled for 2018.

The approach followed in the 2016 Census was viewed as a starting point for better collection of information on sex/gender diversity and it is expected that the approach will be improved for future collections.


2016 CENSUS OPERATIONAL CHALLENGES

The special procedures relied on contact with the Census call centre. A significantly larger than expected volume of calls was received before and after Census night, which meant that some people were unable to get their calls answered in a timely fashion. This may have deterred some or many from following through on the special procedures to receive an access code for the special online form or to seek advice on procedures for the paper form.

There were also some reported incidents of call centre staff being unaware of the special procedures, possibly due to additional staff being brought on quickly to assist with the larger than expected peaks. Call centre management addressed reported issues as quickly as possible.

The withdrawal of the online form for 43 hours also may have led to some people reporting on paper rather than online, and they may have been unaware of how to report as other than male or female on the paper form.


2016 CENSUS RESULTS

Some 1,260 people were considered to have provided a valid and intentional sex/gender diverse response (sex/gender because many did not give enough information to determine which). This is a rate of 5.4 per hundred thousand people - a very small proportion, and unlikely to be an accurate number of people with sex/gender other than male or female. This group provided a response consistent with the special procedures.

A response was considered valid and intentional if the person:
  • selected 'Other' on the online form, without providing further text or with further text that was sex or gender related, or
  • wrote a descriptive term on the paper form that indicated an intentional sex or gender related response (e.g. Other, intersex, trans male, non-binary).

The intent of a comment was not always clear. Some of the marks included drawn symbols, such as boxes with or without divisions, which appeared to be an intentional mark for diverse sex or gender. Where the written or drawn remarks were not clearly something else, they were categorised as diverse sex/gender.


SUMMARY STATISTICS FOR SEX/GENDER OTHER THAN MALE OR FEMALE, 2016
Response to the Sex question
Persons(a)
Rate per 100 000 people

Other responses
Valid and intentional sex/gender other than male or female
1 260
5.4
Multimarks with no text(b)
2 390
10.2
Other responses - clearly not an intended sex or gender diverse response(c)
6 390
27.3
Total
10 040
42.9
Australia(d)(e)
23 401 890

(a) Numbers rounded correct to nearest 10.
(b) People who marked both the Male and Female responses without writing any text.
(c) People who gave intentional but not valid information (e.g. information about other household members, the names of people or various marks on paper forms), those giving a deliberately invalid response and those whose response was exclusively about their sexual orientation.
(d) Includes all responses to the Sex question.
(e) Excludes overseas visitors. Numbers in this table may vary from information previously published, which included overseas visitors.

Source: ABS Census of Population and Housing, 2016


Attachment 2 contains a discussion of the other responses to the Sex question: Multimarks with no text; and Other response - clearly not an intended sex or gender diverse response.


REPORTED DESCRIPTIONS OF SEX AND GENDER DIVERSITY

As mentioned earlier, the special procedures asked respondents to provide the term they were most comfortable with. ABS analysts examined these responses and formed natural groupings to help summarise results. The descriptor set is experimental, sometimes non-exclusive, and responsive rather than designed and structured. It is non-standard and will not be used by the ABS as an official classification.

While the Census topic is Sex, the Census question does not specifically mention sex or gender. The reported descriptions often were not clear as to whether reporting on sex, gender or a mixture of these. This means that the descriptor set is not able to distinguish between these. More information is available in Attachment 2.

Responses

There were 1,260 people who gave an intentional and valid sex/gender diverse response. This is a minimum estimate and is expected to have been substantially under-reported.

One-third of these people (35%) did not provide a more descriptive term ('Other, not further defined').

'Another gender' (18%) and 'Non-binary' (17%) were the next most commonly reported categories.

Some 13% said they were trans male or trans female. A further 13% described themselves just as trans or transgender without giving a more specific identity.

Very few people reported they were intersex or of indeterminate sex - 3.2% of the intentional, valid diverse sex/gender population, and 0.17 per 100,000 of the Australian population.


DESCRIPTORS FOR PERSONS REPORTING DIVERSE SEX/GENDER IDENTITY(a), 2016
Persons(b)
%

Intersex/Indeterminate
40
3.2
Trans male
70
5.5
Trans female
100
7.5
Transgender not elsewhere classified
170
13.2
Non-binary
220
17.3
Another gender
230
18.1
Other not further defined(c)
440
34.9
Persons
1 260
100.0

(a) Comprises people with a valid and intentional sex/gender other than male or female. See Explanatory Information for definitions of the descriptor set.
(b) Numbers rounded correct to nearest 10.
(c) People who did not identify as male or female, without any further qualifying information about their gender or sex identify.

Source: ABS Census of Population and Housing, 2016


Compared with medical estimates of frequency at birth, 'Intersex' has been under-reported in the 2016 Census. The American Psychological Association suggests there are 1 in 1500 births (66.7 per 100,000) where the genitalia are ambiguous, and there are other intersex conditions which do not show in the external genitalia.1 The World Health Organization reports a potentially much higher rate within a thousand, 'a range of chromosome complements, hormone balances, and phenotypic variations that determine sex' with 'a few births per thousand ... born with a single sex chromosome ... and some with three or more sex chromosomes ...'.2

The underestimate of ‘Intersex’ in the 2016 Census reflects the limitations of collecting sex and gender in the Census as described earlier. In addition, there are other reasons why the number of responses to the Census question on 'Sex' would be lower than the numbers assessed as intersex at birth. People born intersex (or parents reporting on behalf of their children) may be satisfied with their sex assigned at birth and/or have decided to report their current legal sex. They also may report their intersex status or provide a transgender response. People who have been treated with disrespect, abuse or discrimination because of their intersex status may be unwilling to reveal their sex in an official document, as may other sex and gender diverse people.


RESULTS OF THE PILOT TEST

The ABS conducted a small pilot test during the operations of the 2016 Census to test attitudes and responses among the wider population, and to gain insights to guide future data collection of sex or gender.

Approximately 29,000 addresses were selected in the pilot test and sent a letter with an access code that took them directly to a special online form. Dwelling residents were not informed that they had been selected in the pilot test. The initial sample of addresses included some out of scope dwellings (e.g. commercial premises and under construction), private dwellings which were unoccupied and dwellings where the occupants did not respond to the Census. There was a mix of forms returned from responding dwellings - paper forms, standard online forms and special online forms. All households received codes for the special online form in their initial letter and in a reminder letter after Census night. However, households that had not responded to the Census within approximately two weeks of Census night had access codes to the standard online form delivered to them by field officers.

Preliminary analysis indicated that the conduct of the pilot test did not have a significant impact on response rate for the selected households. The proportion of people in the pilot test sample who returned an online form was higher than the national average, however further analysis needs to be done to understand whether it was consistent with other similar areas.


PILOT TEST, Summary statistics for sex/gender other than male or female, 2016

PILOT TEST SAMPLE
REST OF AUSTRALIA


Response to the Sex question
Persons(a)
Rate per 100 000 people
Persons(a)
Rate per 100 000 people

Other responses
Valid and intentional sex/gender other than male or female
190
257.5
1 080
4.6
Multimarks with no text(b)
-
4.2
2 390
10.2
Other responses - clearly not an intended sex or gender diverse response(c)
20
23.7
6 360
27.3
Total
210
293.7
9 830
42.1
Australia(d)(e)
71 850
23 330 040

- nil or rounded to zero
(a) Numbers rounded correct to nearest 10.
(b) People who marked both the Male and Female responses without writing any text.
(c) People who gave intentional but not valid information (e.g. information about other household members, the names of people or various marks on paper forms), those giving a deliberately invalid response and those whose response was exclusively about their sexual orientation.
(d) Includes all responses to the Sex question.
(e) Excludes overseas visitors.

Source: ABS Census of Population and Housing, 2016


There were approximately 190 people in the pilot test who provided a valid and intentional sex or gender response other than male or female. This represents a rate of 257 per 100,000 people, over fifty times as likely as the rest of Australia who were not explicitly given a choice other than male or female.

There were differences between the pilot test and the rest of Australia in the reported descriptions of sex and gender diversity. Less than one-fifth of this group gave further, meaningful text in the pilot test, with almost all of the remainder leaving the text box blank. This was significantly lower than the level of meaningful text descriptions received outside the pilot test, which was approximately three-quarters of people with a sex/gender other than male or female. The lower level of text responses in the pilot test may be due to accidental selection of 'Other' on the online form. It could also indicate there was a proportion of the population who wished to report as 'Other' without any further details but were less willing to request the special online form than other people. If all reports of 'Other' with no meaningful description are excluded from the analysis, the reporting of sex/gender other than male or female was more than 10 times as likely in the pilot test than across the rest of Australia.


PILOT TEST, Descriptors for persons reporting diverse sex/gender identity(a), 2016
Pilot test sample
Rest of Australia

Intersex/Indeterminate %
3.8
2.8
Trans male %
-
6.7
Trans female %
-
8.8
Transgender not elsewhere classified %
4.9
14.8
Non-binary %
2.2
19.6
Another gender%
4.3
20.7
Other not further defined(b)%
83.8
26.6
Persons%
100.0
100.0
Persons(c)no.
190
1 080

- nil or rounded to zero
(a) Excludes overseas visitors.
(b) People who did not identify as male or female, without any further qualifying information about their gender or sex identify.
(c) Numbers rounded correct to nearest 10.

Source: ABS Census of Population and Housing, 2016


NEXT STEPS

The ABS has published a further article on 'Sex and Gender Diversity: Characteristics of the Responding Population'.

The ABS is committed to implementing the Australian Government Guidelines on the Recognition of Sex and Gender and will continue to work with the community on approaches for future collections including the 2021 Census.


ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

Peak groups, representing people whose sex is not accurately described by 'Male' or 'Female', worked with the ABS in developing methods for this Census. They would have preferred more direct questions on each form type to ensure adequate representation; but they understood the concerns of the ABS at this stage about the potential impact on response rates population-wide and the potential impacts on data quality. The key times when input was gained from these groups was during public consultations on 2016 Census content (November 2012 to May 2013), follow-up stakeholder engagement meetings (2013 and early 2014) and development of advice for respondents on how to answer the Sex question (2016).Their contribution is gratefully acknowledged.


ATTACHMENT 1: QUESTIONS AND PROCEDURES FOR THE DIFFERENT CENSUS FORMS

ONLINE FORMS

Given the expected large uptake of online forms, the ABS implemented online form procedures for people for whom the categories of male or female did not apply. This was the first Census offering an online option for sex and gender diverse responses.

The standard 2016 Census online forms provided the response options of Male or Female. It provided instructions to call the Census Inquiry Service for information on how to identify as other than male or female.

SEX QUESTION ON DEFAULT ONLINE FORM
Image showing the Sex question on the default online form.


When people called for a Login, the Census Inquiry Service agent issued a new Census Login to the special online form with the three response options, Male, Female and Other, with a 'Please specify' text box. A private online form was available if requested.

SEX QUESTION ON SPECIAL ONLINE FORM
Image showing the Sex question on the special online form.


The 2016 Census also included a small pilot test of 29,000 dwellings which were given the special online form as their default online form. Its main purpose was to test the attitudes and responses among the wider population to the third response option of 'Other (please specify)'.


PAPER FORMS

People completing a paper Census form were instructed to leave the male and female boxes unmarked and write their response in the space to the right of the response boxes. This instruction was not included on the paper form but was available from the Census Inquiry Service and 'How to Answer' instructions, which were on the ABS website and in a fact sheet distributed to stakeholders. Similar procedures were in place for the 2011 Census.

SEX QUESTION ON PAPER HOUSEHOLD FORM
Image showing the Sex question on the paper household form.


INTERVIEW ADMINISTERED FORMS

Census forms administered by interviewers were also able to collect a response other than male or female. Interviewers were trained in these procedures and the marks were recognised in the paper form scanning process and identified as other sex responses.

The Interviewer Household Form (IHF) was used in remote Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. Due to space restrictions, interviewers administering the IHF recorded an 'O' (for Other) in the bottom right corner of the response area for the Sex question for the applicable person.

SEX QUESTION ON THE INTERVIEWER HOUSEHOLD FORM
Image showing the Sex question on the Interviewer Household Form.


The Special Short Form (SSF) was used to enumerate the Homeless population. Interviewers administering the SSF marked both response options and wrote 'Other' to the right of the Male and Female response boxes.

SEX QUESTION ON THE SPECIAL SHORT FORM
Image showing the sex question on the Special Short Form.


ATTACHMENT 2: DATA QUALITY INVESTIGATION AND DESCRIPTIONS OF SEX AND GENDER DIVERSITY


DATA QUALITY INVESTIGATIONS

After the Census form information had been captured, there was an initial data quality review selecting approximately 10,040 forms which might have had a response of sex/gender other than male or female, by way of:
  • written-in material on paper forms next to the male and female boxes
  • the ‘Other’ response box selected in online forms, with or without further description in the 'please specify' option
  • both the male and female boxes ticked on paper forms, without any text next to the male and female boxes ('multimark with no text’).

The aim of the initial data quality review was to organise these responses into groups that were potentially a sex/gender other than male or female and those that were not. The responses were categorised as:
  • intentional and valid diverse sex or gender information: where a person selected the 'Other' category, where available, or/and provided a reliable text description
  • ‘multimark with no text’: where both the male and female answer boxes were marked on the paper forms without any associated text.
  • intentional but not valid information (e.g. extra information about a family member - son, a name)
  • intentionally invalid remarks not related to statistical collection
  • sexual orientation (exclusively)
  • ambiguous comments e.g. expressing approval of the collection of diverse sex/gender information while not explicitly identifying sex or gender.

Office based reviewers sorted the responses into these categories. There was some further consideration of ambiguous comments, resulting in three groups used for output purposes in this article:
  • Valid and intentional sex/gender other than male or female
  • Multimarks with no text
  • Other responses - clearly not an intended sex or gender diverse response.

Valid and intentional sex/gender other than male or female

Some 1,260 people were considered to have provided a valid and intentional response of sex/gender other than male or female. This group is also referred to as sex/gender diverse.

A response was considered valid and intentional if the person:
  • selected 'Other' on the online form, without providing further text or with further text that was sex or gender related, or
  • wrote a descriptive term on the paper form that indicated an intentional sex or gender related response (e.g. Other, intersex, trans male, non-binary).

Other responses - clearly not an intended sex or gender diverse response

There were 6,390 people who were judged as clearly not providing an intended sex/gender diverse response.

A small number of people gave intentionally invalid remarks. A few others used terms that might have been indicators of another sex or gender, but were later found to be responding with intentionally invalid remarks across the whole questionnaire when reviewers checked the rest of their forms more intensively.

A negligible number provided a response based on their sexual orientation (e.g. gay or lesbian). Sexual orientation (exclusively) was out of scope as an answer to the Sex question, and these, a very small number, were not included in the sex/gender diverse population.

The vast majority of this group provided intentional but not valid information, such as information about other household members, linking the male and female boxes to different household members' names or symbols.

The intent of a written comment on the paper form was not always clear. On the household and personal paper forms, the space alongside the printed male and female sex responses, assigned as a capture field for writing-in diverse sex/gender responses, was sometimes used by respondents for other purposes.

For example, where a household had more than six members and had not requested another form, or did not know they could, there could be information for the extra person(s) written in this apparently spare space. Some of the intended respondents had indicated their other sex or gender by paired male and female personal names in this space. However, these might also have been the names of twins or extra people in the dwelling. Where it became clear that these were extra people on the form, the records were excluded from the sex/gender diverse output category.

Multimarks with no text

A further 2,390 people marked both male and female responses on the paper form, did not have an obvious error in their response, but did not provide any descriptive text (multimarks with no text).

Interpreting multimark with no text responses posed a particular problem. The instructions for indicating diverse sex or gender on the paper forms were to mark neither box but to write alongside them the term with which the person felt most comfortable.

Some of these were just errors, where a response box identifying 'male' or 'female' had been wrongly marked, then crossed out and the correct one chosen. The meaning of the remaining responses was unclear. Some of them could have been other mistakes or an attempt to provide responses for two people within the one response space. Some respondents might not have been aware of the special procedures in place for reporting a sex or gender other than male or female, and intentionally marked both boxes.

Further analysis of people who gave a multimark response with no text shows that, as a whole, they had quite different socio-demographic characteristics to those who gave a valid and intentional response of sex/gender other than male or female. The different socio-demographic characteristics between the two groups suggest that they are two quite different groups. Consequently, people with a multimark response have not been included in further Census analysis of sex and gender diversity. It is acknowledged that some people may have responded with a multimark with no text as a way of indicating an other sex or gender. However, there is no way of distinguishing these intentional responses from form mistakes.

The table below shows the different distribution of characteristics across a range of Census items:
  • Just over one-half of people who responded with a multimark with no text were aged 65 years and over (55%) compared with about one in twenty people with a valid and intentional sex/gender other than male or female (5.9%). The proportion of people who used paper forms increased with age.
  • Just over two-thirds of people whose response was a multimark had a relationship of husband, wife or partner (69%) compared with one-quarter of those with a valid and intentional sex/gender other than male or female (27%). Furthermore, approximately 1,000 out of the 2,400 multimark records overall were husband, wife or partner aged 65 years and over.
  • One-half of people who responded with a multimark lived in greater capital cities (52%) compared with three-quarters of people with a valid and intentional sex/gender diverse response (75%).
  • Some 42% of people with multimarked sex had completed year 11 or 12 compared with 80% of people with a valid and intentional diverse sex/gender diverse response.


COMPARISON OF SELECTED CHARACTERISTICS OF DIVERSE SEX/GENDER AND MULTIMARKS(a), 2016

Socio-demographic characteristics
Responded with a valid and intentional sex/gender other than male or female
Responded with multimarks with no text

Age group (years)
0-14 years
%
4.5
4.0
15- 24 years
%
27.7
4.4
25-34 years
%
28.0
5.9
35-44 years
%
14.2
6.2
45-54 years
%
11.0
11.1
55-64 years
%
7.4
13.4
65-74 years
%
3.8
21.6
75-84 years
%
1.7
23.2
85 years and over
%
0.4
9.8

State or territory of usual residence
New South Wales
%
26.0
39.7
Victoria
%
33.3
21.7
Queensland
%
17.8
16.9
South Australia
%
6.6
8.6
Western Australia
%
9.6
8.1
Tasmania
%
3.2
3.6
Northern Territory
%
0.4
0.4
Australian Capital Territory
%
3.4
0.7

Greater capital city statistical areas(b)
Greater capital cities
%
75.4
51.5
Rest of state/territory
%
22.7
47.8

Household composition(c)
One family household
%
53.5
83.2
Multiple family household
%
1.1
2.8
Lone person household
%
20.9
7.3
Group household
%
22.3
4.7

Relationship in household(d)
Husband, wife or partner
%
26.3
68.6
Lone parent
%
3.6
6.6
Child
%
16.9
7.7
Other relative
%
2.8
2.2
Other
%
26.6
5.8
Lone person
%
20.9
7.3

Religious affiliation(e)
Christianity
%
15.9
64.7
Other religions(f)
%
10.4
4.6
No religion(g)
%
63.4
20.2

Proficiency in spoken English/Language(h)
Speaks English only
%
86.1
79.9
Speaks other language and English: Very well
%
10.3
10.7
Speaks other language and English: Well
%
2.6
5.9
Speaks other language and English: Not well
%
1.0
2.6
Speaks other language and English: Not at all
%
0.2
0.9

Highest year of school completed(i)
Year 11/12 or equivalent
%
80.3
42.2
Year 10
%
11.5
30.2
Year 9
%
3.7
10.8
Year 8 or below
%
2.5
14.3
Did not go to school
%
2.0
2.4

Total persons(a)
no.
1 260
2 390

(a) Excludes overseas visitors.
(b) Total includes no usual address and migratory, offshore and shipping.
(c) Excludes: people away from home on Census night; and visitor only and non-classifiable households. Total includes people who were in non-private dwellings.
(d) Excludes people away from home on Census night. Total includes people who were in non-private dwellings.
(e) As religion was an optional question, not stated responses were included when calculating proportions.
(f) 'Other religions' includes Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam, Judaism and other religions.
(g) No religion includes Secular beliefs (e.g. Atheism) and Other spiritual beliefs (e.g. New Age).
(h) Excludes proficiency not stated.
(i) For people aged 15 years and over. Excludes highest year of school completed not stated.

Source: ABS Census of Population and Housing, 2016


REPORTED DESCRIPTIONS OF SEX AND GENDER DIVERSITY

The special procedures asked respondents to provide the term they were most comfortable with. ABS analysts examined these responses and formed natural groupings to help summarise results. This descriptor set was developed to provide a more detailed disaggregation of sex and gender diverse responses (also referred to above as valid and intentional responses of sex/gender other than male or female).

This set of categories provides the best description that could be drawn from Census responses. The categories in the descriptor set are not based on a developed overview of population categories and a structured set of questions. They are experimental, sometimes non-exclusive, and responsive rather than designed and structured. The descriptor set is non-standard and will not be used by the ABS as an official classification. It should not be taken as a model for other studies. It is only intended for use in these articles from the 2016 Census, to return as much collated information as possible to those who provided it. The descriptions are valuable references and indications of language used.

Sex and gender

While the Census topic is Sex, the Census question does not specifically mention sex or gender. Keeping a clear distinction between the concepts of sex and gender was not possible for this Census collection. Consequently, the descriptor set includes mixed sex and gender categories.

A broad array of descriptions was provided in the written responses. Some were full of information allowing categories to be constructed. Others provided enough information to be included in a population with some characteristics in common, but not enough to clarify whether for sex or gender.

It was not possible, therefore, to assign these to a clear sex or gender category. Even where there were descriptions of medical or surgical procedures to establish a person's male or female characteristics more strongly, they were frequently described in gender terms. It was often not clear whether the procedures related to sex or gender change, or a combination of these.

This means that alignment with the ABS Standard for Sex and Gender Variables, 2016 (cat. no. 1200.0.550.12), keeping a clear distinction between sex and gender, would require the development of a number of more specific questions. Developing such questions would also need to draw more deeply from the experience of the relevant respondents.

Descriptions

The reported descriptions of sex/gender diversity used in this article are:
  • Intersex/Indeterminate
  • Trans male
  • Trans female
  • Transgender not elsewhere classified
  • Non-binary
  • Another gender
  • Other not further defined.


EXPLANATORY INFORMATION

This article is based on usual residence Census counts and excludes overseas visitors in Australia for less than one year.

Numbers have been rounded correct to the nearest 10. Numbers were rounded correct to the nearest 100 in the earlier version of this article.

Sex refers to a person's biological characteristics. A person's sex is usually described as being male or female. Some people may have both male and female characteristics, or neither male nor female characteristics, or other sexual characteristics. Sex is assigned at birth and is relatively fixed. However, a person's sex may change during their lifetime as a result of procedures commonly referred to as sex change, gender reassignment, gender affirmation, transsexual surgery, transgender reassignment or sexual reassignment. Throughout this process, which may be over a considerable period of time, sex may be recorded as either male, female or other.

Gender refers to the way in which a person identifies their masculine or feminine characteristics. A person's gender relates to their deeply held internal and individual sense of gender and is not always exclusively male or female. It may or may not correspond to their sex at birth. As gender is determined by the individual, it can therefore be fluid over time.

The reported descriptions of sex/gender diversity are defined as follows:
  • Intersex/Indeterminate - Intersex people are those who are born with genetic, hormonal or physical characteristics that are not typically 'male' or 'female'. Intersex people have a diversity of bodies and identities. A person of indeterminate sex or gender is either someone whose biological sex cannot be unambiguously determined or someone who identifies as neither male nor female.
  • Trans male - A transgender person who was born female but whose gender identity is male. Also may include people assigned female at birth who are transitioning from female to male sex.
  • Trans female - A transgender person who was born male but whose gender identity is female. Also may include people assigned male at birth who are transitioning from male to female.
  • Transgender not elsewhere classified (nec) - A person whose gender identity is different from their sex at birth and has not indicated that they are trans male or trans female.
  • Non-binary - A person who identifies as non-binary.
  • Another gender - A person who has multiple genders, is gender neutral, is gender fluid or has another identity not covered by the rest of the categories. This a separate category to Non-binary in this descriptor set because this set groups similar terms together, using the term provided by respondents.
  • Other not further defined (nfd) - A person who does not identify as male or female, without any further qualifying information about their gender or sex identity.

For definitions of standard output items used in this article, see the Census of Population and Housing: Census Dictionary, 2016 (cat. no. 2901.0). Selected items are also included in the Glossary, available from the Explanatory Notes tab at the top of this page. For more information about 2016 Census data release and products, go to www.abs.gov.au.


FOOTNOTES

1. American Psychological Association, Answers to your questions about individuals with intersex conditions. Accessed from <https://www.apa.org/topics/lgbt/intersex.pdf> on 7 November 2017.
2. World Health Organization, Gender and Genetics. Accessed from <http://www.who.int/genomics/gender/en/index1.html> on 7 November 2017.