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Definition

Definition

Sex is the distinction between males and females based on the biological differences in sexual characteristics.

Explanatory notes

Sex reassignment or assignment

In responding to a question on sex, most people are able to classify themselves as either male or female. A person who has undergone sex reassignment should be classified to that sex. A person who was of indeterminate sex and who has undergone sex assignment should be classified to that sex. Someone who is currently undergoing such procedures and living as the sex that they are taking steps towards would be classified as that sex.

Gender

Although the term gender is commonly substituted for the term sex they are not interchangeable, as they are different concepts. Whereas sex is a biologically determined variable, gender refers to the socially and culturally perceived or expected dimensions of behaviour associated with males and females, that is masculinity and femininity respectively. Gender is a complex social phenomenon that shapes an individual’s sense of personal identity and their interactions with others, and shapes the sets of social relations embedded in institutions such as the family, workplace, school, hospital, criminal justice system, and the State. The social significance attached to being female or male and the use of gender as a component of social structures varies between societies and over time (Du Plessis, 1994).

Gender identity and sexual orientation

In order to measure the diversity and complexity of gender identity (physical, genetic, emotional, etc) and sexual orientation concepts, new and separate definitions, questions, classifications, and statistical standards would be required.

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