World Health Organization (WHO)


The different biological and physiological characteristics of males and females, such as reproductive organs, chromosomes, hormones, etc.


Refers to the socially constructed characteristics of women and men – such as norms, roles and relationships of and between groups of women and men. It varies from society to society and can be changed. The concept of gender includes five important elements: relational, hierarchical, historical, contextual and institutional. While most people are born either male or female, they are taught appropriate norms and behaviours – including how they should interact with others of the same or opposite sex within households, communities and work places. When individuals or groups do not “fit” established gender norms they often face stigma, discriminatory practices or social exclusion – all of which adversely affect health.


Gender Identity

An individual's personal sense of being a man, woman, or other gender, regardless of the sex that person was assigned at birth. []


In LOINC, sex refers to the biological sex of an organism, which is most commonly determined based on anatomy and physiology or genetic (chromosome) analysis. Our definition is based on the World Health Organization's definition of sex and gender: sex (male, female) refers to biological and physiological characteristics, and gender (masculine, feminine) refers to socially constructed roles, behaviors, activities, and attributes. (

The Translanguage Primer project

Gender (noun)

A complex combination of roles and norms, expression, aesthetics, identities, performances, social interactions, and more that are assigned certain meanings by society. Gender is both self-defined and society-defined. How gender is embodied and defined varies from culture to culture and from person to person. People make conscious and unconscious choices about gender all the time. Everything from what to wear and how to speak, to how we imagine ourselves and how we relate to other people contributes to gender. Gender is often simplified– purposely, due to colonization— into a binary or a spectrum. However, neither fully encapsulates the whole of gender. The model of gender that this Primer endorses is the galaxy model.

“Biological Sex” (compound noun)

A medical term designating a certain combination of gonads, chromosomes, external organs, secondary sex characteristics and hormonalbalances. The binary system (wo/man) set by the medical establishment to reinforce white supremacy and gender oppression, usually based on genitals and sometimes chromosomes. Because this is usually divided into ‘male’ and ‘female,’ this category ignores the existence of intersex people and natural sexual variations within the two broader recognized categories.

e.g. The falsehood of “biological sex” is a driving force behind the debates around trans people in sports, even though all research shows there’s virtually no difference between them and their peers.


  1. either the male or female division of a species, especially as differentiated with reference to the reproductive functions.
  2. the sum of the structural and functional differences by which the male and female are distinguished, or the phenomena or behavior dependent on these differences.


  1. either the male or female division of a species, especially as differentiated by social and cultural roles and behavior:the feminine gender.Compare sex(def 1).
  2. similar category of human beings that is outside the male/female binary classification and is based on the individual'spersonal awareness or identity. See also third gender.

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