Sex and gender

In preparation for the 2021 Census, Statistics Canada conducted a content consultation from fall 2017 to spring 2018 using an online questionnaire and face-to-face discussions.

Consultation respondents and federal stakeholders suggested that the census questionnaire collect information on sex at birth and gender.

As an early action in response to the demands from users and through consultations, Statistics Canada developed and released new standards on sex and gender.

Sex at birth and gender refer to two different concepts. Sex at birth refers to sex assigned at birth. Sex at birth is typically assigned based on a person's reproductive system and other physical characteristics.

Gender refers to the gender that a person feels internally ("gender identity" along the gender spectrum) and the gender that a person expresses publicly ("gender expression") in their daily life, including at work, while shopping or accessing other services, in their environment, or in the broader community. A person's current gender may differ from the sex a person was assigned at birth (male or female) and may differ from what is indicated on their current legal documents. A person's gender may change over time.

You asked, we listened

As a result of national consultations with interested parties, Statistics Canada has included new and modified questions on sex at birth and gender in the 2019 Census Test.

Information about LGBTQ2+ respondents was by far the most commonly reported data gap in the demography and household composition section of the census questionnaire.

The addition of gender to the census test is part of Statistics Canada's effort to recognize the diversity of the Canadian population. Also, Statistics Canada recognizes the importance of giving respondents the opportunity to provide their gender in a non-binary fashion on the questionnaire.

You asked for Proposed content for the 2019 Census Test
More information about LGBTQ2+ respondents

The test questionnaire now includes the more precise term "sex at birth," and a new question about gender, to:

  • collect information on the gender identities of people in Canada
  • improve policy planning and programs.

Respondents said that if data on the gender of people in Canada were available, they would help government and organizations to improve policies and programs, target services, and conduct research.

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