Frequently Asked Questions

Who are you?

I’m a curious individual, doing a casual survey annually, which somehow now gets thousands and thousands of participants. I’m not a student or a professional researcher or an academic of any kind. I have no background in statistics or social sciences.

My name is Cassian. I’m nonbinary (agender), and my pronouns are they/them. I do a little nonbinary activism when I can.

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Why do you collect this information?

Back in 2013 I noticed that there was a lot of confusion about the language used by nonbinary people to describe themselves. This title was the best/most popular among gender non-conforming people, the real nonbinary pronoun was that, no one who is really genderqueer calls themself x… And I thought, no one is basing any of this on anything reliable, are they? Wouldn’t it be cool if someone actually asked as many people as possible how they identify, anonymously and neutrally, and then people could say things and back it up with some numbers? So I did it.

And then, a little over a year later, I wondered if any of those popular words were still popular, or whether they were being overtaken by something new and more suitable. Are there any neopronouns that are becoming more popular, that I can make cis people more aware of and consider using for myself? Wouldn’t it be cool if I just… ran the same survey again, to see if anything has changed?

The third year I got 3,000 responses. After that I set up an online presence for the survey, and in 2021 it was 44,000.

When I started, no one else seemed to be doing anything like this, and it felt like that kind of information was sorely needed. As time went on some charities and organisations started surveying nonbinary people about various political issues, but none asked purely about language and none reached as many people as this survey, so I want to keep going.

All along I’ve felt that information about us should be freely accessible to anyone who wants to use it, and I’ve seen people use the results for academic purposes, business (from banks to Etsy stores), and political activism. Academic language and paywalls make this vital information inaccessible to the marginalised people it is meant to represent, so even though it takes a lot of dedication, commitment, hard work, etc., I couldn’t justify keeping the information private or charging for it.

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What do you do with the results?

I sort through them to find any information that should be removed, although it should be noted that with 10,000+ results that’s not guaranteed.

Then I process everything and extract some statistics, usually resulting in a list of the identity words, titles and pronouns that are chosen or entered by over 1% of respondents.

Then I summarise it in a report that can be shared, and make the spreadsheet public so that others can use the data to get useful information out of it. I maintain a list of projects, dissertations, etc. that cite the Gender Census results here.

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What support do you have?

The only financial support I get is from crowdfunding, which I do with Patreon. The money raised covers the cost of the survey software, domain name, mailing list, and email server.

I don’t usually have any help from anyone aside from individuals, charities and organisations spreading the word about the survey after it is open.

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Who has access to the data?

Data protection in the Gender Census is important enough that it has its own page here, but hopefully this summary will help.

While the survey is open: me, anyone I ask for help dealing with the spreadsheet, and the survey company.

When the survey is closed, I go through the survey data and remove any identifying information that has been entered accidentally, such as email addresses or names. Please be aware that with tens of thousands of responses I can’t guarantee that I will catch everything!

When I publish the results I write up a summary, but I also make the entire results spreadsheet public – including every survey response (minus any identifying information).

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Can I use these results for [project]?

Yes, you can cite these results as you would any other study or blog for anything non-profit.

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How can I be notified of the next survey?

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Should binary trans men and women take part?

I have to avoid words like “binary” and “nonbinary” in the criteria for who is invited to take part, in order to be fully inclusive and avoid bias. This makes it very difficult to answer this question!

I consider that the “gender binary” consists of people who fit into only one of these two categories:

  • Woman/girl – all the time, solely, and completely (may be cisgender or transgender)
  • Man/boy – all the time, solely, and completely (may be cisgender or transgender)

Someone could be a trans woman all the time, solely and completely, and would therefore not be invited to participate.

Likewise, someone could be a trans man all the time, solely and completely, and would therefore not be invited to participate.

However, we recognise that one can, for example, be a trans man and also sometimes experience other genders, or be a trans woman whose gender fluctuates in intensity, and those experiences of gender don’t fall within our definition of the gender binary, so those people would be welcome to take part.

We err on the side of inclusive, so if your experience of your gender as a trans woman or trans man is not fully described by the gender binary in some way, please do participate.

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Please include languages other than English in the Gender Census!

I am not able to run the Gender Census in languages other than English. However, the survey itself does specify that people are welcome to enter words from other languages that they use while speaking English. You can read more about this decision here.

If you are running a similar survey in another language whose results will be published and free to view online, please do let me know by @-ing or DMing me on Twitter or emailing – participants ask about this all the time, and I would love to signal-boost your survey!

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Can you add my gender / pronouns / title to the list in the next survey?

I automatically add things to the list of options in the survey if that option is entered into the “other” textbox by more than 1% of participants. For a survey of 3,000 people that would be 30 people.

There are a few exceptions to this, such as when a word is part of a “set” and having a comparison of all words in a set is useful. For example, even if less than 1% of participants select “cisgender”, I include it in the list because I am also including “transgender” and I want to compare their relative popularity.

Aside from that, I don’t make exceptions. I don’t have an agenda of promoting words to increase their use among nonbinary people, and I will happily add a word to the list of checkbox options if it’s clear that it’s a reasonably commonly used word – and my line is at 1%.

Rest assured, though, that all words you enter in the “other” boxes are counted for the results, even words that are entered only once! And most questions have an “other” box and a space for you to write anything you want.

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This term is offensive and you should remove it from future surveys!

I get this mostly with the pronoun set it/it and the identity words trans* (no footnote) and queer.

I am very aware that trans* and queer and it are terms that have been and still are used to alienate and dehumanise us. However, I try to remain neutral. If a term is chosen or written in by over 1% of respondents it stays on the list, even if it’s offensive.

Many people for one reason or another identify with these words, and if they do, I want to count them. Who am I to tell them the words they use to describe themselves are wrong? Aren’t you curious to see the path of a slur being reclaimed until it’s commonly accepted? I am!

Plus, if I took it off the list people would keep writing it in the “other” textboxes anyway, and that would just make it harder for me to count them all.

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Can you put checkbox terms in the survey in alphabetical order so they’re easier to find?

No, because I need to randomise the answers to reduce primacy and recency bias. That’s the phenomenon where participants are much more likely to choose things they see first and last in a list.

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Could you change the title question to let us choose multiple titles?

I’m afraid not. This question is designed to push you to choose one title only, the same way that you would be pushed to choose one title only on a form for opening a new bank account, for example.

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Can you ask about gender assigned at birth in future?

I can see why that would be really interesting to a lot of people! But I just can’t. It’s too intrusive.

If the question was required, it would make the survey really hard to fill in for a LOT of people. And that means fewer participants. Even if it was optional the question would probably make many people uncomfortable – and it wouldn’t be very useful data. It might show us which people are more comfortable answering questions about assigned gender, but it would not be able to give reliable information about the proportions of birth-assigned gender in the nonbinary population. That’s before we even get to the issues that intersex people would have in trying to answer this question.

Since I can’t make it a required question and the data isn’t useful otherwise, I leave the question out.

There’s also the argument that as nonbinary people we are trying to get away from binaries, including situations where binary genders are applied to our bodies without consent.

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This survey should be more scientific.

Could you be more specific?

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We’re plural. How should we fill in the form?

In order to be useful for the various purposes it’s used for, the survey should be filled out once per body. Which is to say, participants who are plural should fill it out together, once, on behalf of the whole system as best they can. You can read more on that issue here.

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I’m an adult human female!

Great! If you feel like you can honestly check the required checkbox at the beginning, then you are welcome to take part and your responses are valued.

Yes, I confirm that I don’t really fit into just one of the two boxes of “always, solely and completely a woman/girl” or “always, solely and completely a man/boy”.

A lot of you describe experiences of not identifying with your bodies, feeling like you don’t have any internal experience of gender and feeling negative emotions when people treat you like a woman, etc. These are stories that are very common in this survey, and this is a place for you to voice them if you would like to.

However, please note that if any of the following are included in your response I will probably delete it:

  • Anything insulting or abusive. (I don’t need to deal with that, and neither does anyone who downloads the spreadsheets.)
  • Statements that human sex is dimorphic, or that sex is immutable. (Peer-reviewed scientific studies dispute both of these “facts”, and neither is relevant to the survey.)
  • Statements that trans women are men or that trans men are women. (Strangely, the latter doesn’t get mentioned as much.)
  • Generalised statements/assertions about people who are not you. This survey aims to collect information about your individual experiences of and feelings about yourself.

This list is not exhaustive.

If you stick to describing your own feelings and experiences and avoid making sweeping judgements or insulting me, your identities and titles and pronouns will be represented in survey results. This is because a lot of gender-critical and radical feminist women seem to experience gender in a way that isn’t fully described by the restrictive gender binary, and often in a way that is very similar to nonbinary people’s experiences. (Based on their submissions to this survey over several years, anyway.)

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Can you help me with [project]?

You mean, do free consultancy for you with my specialism in trans and nonbinary genders?


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Can you help me with [project] for money?

I’m afraid not! Sorry about that. You are welcome to download the spreadsheets and get someone else to play with the numbers, and then cite the Gender Census as the source of the statistics.

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The survey asks if I’m in the UK. Do I have to be in the UK to take part or be counted?

No, the survey is open to anyone anywhere. I ask whether you’re in the UK because I sometimes like to make an additional report with only data from UK participants, for UK-specific activism.

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