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Monitoring equality

Developing a gender identity question

Researchers: Martin Mitchell
Published: January 2011


To develop a question or questions on gender identity (including transgender and/ or gender reassignment) to be used for surveys and equal opportunities monitoring that would be acceptable to the trans and wider British public.


Trans people and people from the wider population were willing to answer the questions recommended by the study provided that;

  • the purpose of asking the question was explained;
  • it was clear how data would be protected in line with the Data Protection Act;
  • the confidentiality and anonymity of participants was upheld to the highest standard, including the requirements Gender Recognition Act

Five questions were proposed addressing: (1) sex described at birth; (2) how people think of their sex themselves; (3) a specific question addressing gender resassignment; (4) a question assessing  position in relation gender identity; (5) a question addressing specific forms of transgender and/ or non-binary gender identity.

The report provides a comprehensive technical analysis of how the recommended were developed.


Stage 1 - a review of existing questions and shortlisting for testing.

Stage 2 - face-to-face and online focus groups with trans people and the wider population to explore the understanding, acceptability and preferred mode of completion of the short-listed question.

Stage 3 - individual cognitive interviews with trans people and people rom the wider population to explored detailed understanding and production of recommended questions.