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Gender, Sex and Variations of Sex Characteristics

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On 22 April 2021, Stats NZ released an updated Statistical Standard for Gender, Sex and Variations of Sex Characteristics.

Why review the Standards?

The review was driven by unmet information needs, issues with existing standards, and significant community interest. At Stats NZ, we were particularly concerned that the existing standards didn't adequately reflect transgender and intersex people.

Data is used to inform important decision across government, so it’s important that we are as inclusive as possible.

What was the process?

The updated standard is the result of years of hard work and contributions from a huge number of people.

To begin, gender, sex and variations of sex characteristics (intersex) are specialist topics, so we pulled together an Advisory Group made up of experts and people from the community to help us with the review. We wanted to understand the lived experiences of people from a wide range of backgrounds.

Several central government agencies also shared their ideas and experiences throughout the standard refresh process.

National statistical offices around the world are facing similar challenges, so throughout the process, we were able to learn from their experiences and share our own. Also, while it’s important that the approach is flexible, long-lasting, and suitable for Aotearoa NZ, we have to make sure the statistics we produce are consistent internationally - many of the statistics we produce need to be compared with international statistics.

Finally, we received almost 1500 submissions during our public consultation phase. The submissions came from individuals and organisations, both locally and abroad. A number submitters highlighted important points and their contributions helped shape the refreshed Standard.

Who will use the standard?

At Stats NZ, the updated standard will inform future Stats NZ collections, including the household surveys and next census.

The standard is likely to be mandated through the Government Chief Data Steward’s mandated standards process. The process does not mean that agencies must start collecting data, but that where they collect and share data on these topics, the standard must be adopted.

Mandated data standards

A number of government agencies already collect some form of gender or sex data, and we will be providing support for the adoption of the updated standard in their survey and administrative collections.

Detailed information about the statistical standard

Update - 14 February 2022

The standard has now been mandated and must be used by Public Service Departments and Departmental Agencies when collecting, publishing, or sharing data on gender and sex.

A new mandated data standard for gender and sex - blogpost

Register of mandated data standards