YOU report that MSP Kenneth Gibson has criticised National Records of Scotland (NRS) over its proposals for the sex question in the 2021 Census ("SNP’S Gibson accuses government quango of gender agenda", The Herald, January 10). NRS proposes to use exactly the same question as in the last Census in 2011: "What is your sex? Female / Male". And, just as in 2011, NRS proposes guidance aimed at trans people saying they can answer as who they are, even if this doesn't match their sex on their birth certificate.

Some people have suggested that, instead, trans people should be required in 2021 to answer with the sex on their birth certificate. NRS's recent detailed question testing shows that that would negatively impact the Census data obtained from trans people. It makes no difference to non-trans people, whose lived sex and birth certificate sex are the same. The term cisgender, used by NRS, simply means non-trans, and is no more intended to be offensive than the term heterosexual, meaning non-LGB.

Changing the Census to require trans people to answer the sex question with the sex on their birth certificate would also prevent direct comparability with the 2011 Census results, and with the 2021 results from the rest of the UK, where the Census will continue with the 2011 approach to the sex question. That comparability is a key Census aim.

This is a matter of great concern for trans people, not least because of the wider debate about their rights currently. An international campaign document was recently circulated to MSPs which calls for trans people to be treated in all circumstances as their original birth certificate sex. That would undermine decades of progress and medical understanding of trans people, would breach UK and European equality and human rights laws, and would make trans people's lives a misery.

We hope that the Parliament will repeat their pragmatic approach to the sex question that worked well in the Census in 2011, recognising that trans people simply want to get on with their lives, living as the sex they always knew themselves to be.

Tim Hopkins, Director, Equality Network, Edinburgh EH6.