How to ask about gender

There are many instances in the working life of college and university where we ask about gender. The TransEdu Scotland research found that questions on gender are often poorly designed and lack adequate option, causing considerable discomfort to those completing the forms.

It is important to consider how  we are asking this question and whether we actually require this information to fulfil our objectives. It is also important to explain why you are asking for this information and how you plan to use it.

Example gender question: 

How do you describe your gender?

  • Man / Male (Including trans man)
  • Woman / Female (Including trans woman)
  • In another way [Free-text option]
  • Prefer not to say

How to ask about trans status

While it is not a statutory duty for institutions, you are encouraged to ask about trans status in your equality monitoring forms. This will provide you with important data on the numbers of trans applicants, students and staff, and may enable you to identify trends in this data. Having this data may also assist in evidencing the need for certain provision within your institution.

Researchers are also encouraged to ask about trans status when collecting demographic information from participants, particularly when undertaking large-scale research.

Do you consider yourself to be trans or as having a trans history? Trans is an umbrella term to describe anyone whose sex and / or gender differs from that assigned to them at birth.

  • Yes
  • No
  • Prefer not to say


Equality Monitoring: Where to find out more

The Equality Challenge Unit has extensive guidance on equality monitoring for HE and FE 

institutions. Follow this link to access their webpages and resources.


Getting Equalities Monitoring Right, Stonewall Scotland and Scottish Trans

Equality Monitoring: Resources on why we ask

What's it got to do with you?, Stonewall 

Resource to explain why equality monitoring matters, and why we ask the questions.

Monitoring Matters: Why is is important to provide your equalities information, City of Glasgow College

The video below is a resource designed to inform students and staff why it is important to collect monitoring data. Visit the City of Glasgow College Equality, Diversity & Inclusion webpages for more information.