The right of intersex or androgynous people to declare their identity in the August 8 national census has been recognised by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS).
Ticking one of the census's two boxes in response to the male/female question has previously presented a challenge for intersex people and androgynes, who have both male and female sexual characteristics.
As with all citizens, it is compulsory for them to fill in the census.
After lobbying from intersex groups, the ABS has said intersex or androgynous people don't have to tick either box.
"The ABS has no intention to force or coerce respondents to lie about their sex," said Dave Nauenburg, ABS director of Population Census Development and Field Organisation.
"My advice to intersex people is that they can complete the sex question correctly by ticking none of the boxes provided for the question, and writing in the word "intersex", or "androgynous".
However, the ABS is not keeping statistics on intersex people this year.
ABS spokesman Paul Williams said a computer program will assign a sex to the small number of people who fail to answer that question.
Unfortunately, it looks like they won't be told which sex they've been arbitrarily assigned. Pity. That would be useful the next time they apply for a Passport, or an Insurance Policy, or any of a number of other things where "All questions must be completed" and "the penalty for supplying false or misleading information are severe".
And of course, while such people count, they won't be counted. Because if they were, the extent of the syndrome might be revealed, and that would be terribly inconvenient for everybody. While they are viewed as a "tiny minority", only a handful in the country, everyone can get away with pretending that the strict M/F binary divide is not just a good approximation, but set in stone.
Imagine though if it was revealed that there were not just tens, but thousanda of people in this situation in the country? After all overseas figures show approximately 1% of people have some degree of Intersex.
|Not XX and not XY||one in 1,666 births|
|Klinefelter (XXY)||one in 1,000 births|
|Androgen insensitivity syndrome||one in 13,000 births|
|Partial androgen insensitivity syndrome||one in 130,000 births|
|Classical congenital adrenal hyperplasia||one in 13,000 births|
|Late onset adrenal hyperplasia||one in 66 individuals|
|Vaginal agenesis||one in 6,000 births|
|Ovotestes||one in 83,000 births|
|Idiopathic (no discernable medical cause)||one in 110,000 births|
|Iatrogenic (caused by medical treatment, for instance progestin administered to pregnant mother)||no estimate|
|5 alpha reductase deficiency||no estimate|
Mixed gonadal dysgenesis
|Complete gonadal dysgenesis||one in 150,000 births|
|Hypospadias (urethral opening in perineum or along penile shaft)||one in 2,000 births|
|Hypospadias (urethral opening between corona and tip of glans penis)||one in 770 births|
|Total number of people whose bodies differ from standard male or female||one in 100 births|
|Total number of people receiving surgery to “normalize” genital appearance||one or two in 1,000 births|
Why, if the Government knew that there are about 200,000 Australians who aren't "normally" male nor female, and tens of thousands of those who are severely affected, then they might have to do something about giving such people some human rights, allowing them to marry, change the Pharmaceutical Benefits scheme (which allows some treatment only for males, other treatment only for females), and a host of other inconveniences.
So best not to ask - and not to count them.
Besides which, despite all the assurances of confidentiality and so on, how many people whose condition isn't too obvious to conceal would admit it?