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What’s the difference between Gender and Sex?

Amanda Valentine Dela Cruz

We’ve seen and heard gender and sex often being intertwined and sadly, mistaken as the same thing. However, there’s a fine line in the difference between sex and gender.

It’s time to dispel the common notions that people have with these two words. In today’s world, it’s vital to know sex vs. gender in order to provide everyone, most especially trans people, the dignity and recognition that they deserve.

Common Confusions on Gender VS Sexuality

confused men

As mentioned earlier, the most common mistake that people tend to make is that they often equate gender and sex. However, this is not the case. Another confusion is that the majority think that sex is what ultimately determines one’s gender which is something that science has time and time again debunked.

Below’s a list of crucial information that you must remember.

  • There’s a difference between gender and sexuality.
  • Biological sex is not synonymous with one’s gender identity.
  • Gender assigned at birth isn’t always permanent.

To easily answer what’s the difference between sex and gender, the two must be defined individually. Kindly know that this article was created for educational purposes only. It wasn’t made to attack a group of people.

Definition of Sex

We see the word sex a lot in our official documents. This text field is often written on :

  • birth certificates
  • passports
  • driver’s licenses
  • and more

The government imposes us to fill out this information in order for them to keep track of our identities in an easier manner.

women in underwear

After all, transgender people are still a minority of the global population. However, this little bit of text may start creating confusion most especially if the person being determined by the M (male) or F (female) letter does not look like what the letters are normally perceived.

This is why it’s vital for you to know that biological sex doesn’t determine one’s gender. A trans woman who lives her life as a woman 24/7 may still possess records identifying her as M when she does not look remotely anything close to what M majorly represents at all.

Sex is what the doctor gives the baby at birth based on his/her genitals. In layman’s term, if the child is born with a penis, he’s an M, and if born with a vagina, she’s an F.

Origin and Evolution

The word “sex” comes from the Latin word sexus, which comes from a root sec- meaning “cut” (compare section, dissect, segment). The original meaning was “division”, which changed to “a way of dividing something in half”, and thus to “the division between men and women; biological sex”.

Usage

The word sex is used majorly in official documents and medical records (to determine biological sex).

Definition of Gender

Now that you know the simplistic meaning of the word sex, it’s time to shift to a more complicated one; gender. Gender is more confusing because it’s not only determined by two genitals, it’s determined by how people perceive themselves and how they live their life on a daily basis.

women and sunshine

You may be asking yourself why it’s complicated when there are only two genders, woman and man. If you think of it this way, it only means that you only have knowledge about the gender binary (woman and man).

Outside the gender binary is a tantamount selection of gender identities. One good example of these identities is gender nonconforming.

Are there more than 2 genders?

Yes, and in some cases, there’s the absence of gender which will be elaborated more a little later.

How many genders are there?

Currently, there are more than 50 recognized genders and it’s the list is ever-growing. The reason being is because one’s gender can only be determined by oneself. Here are the 64 terms that describe gender identity and expression.

Origin and Evolution

Either of the two sexes (male and female), especially when considered with reference to social and cultural differences rather than biological ones. In today’s world, the term is also used more broadly to denote a range of identities that do not correspond to established ideas of male and female.

Usage

In rare cases, most especially in countries whereby transgender rights are still not apparent, the term gender is still used in official documents. However, the word gender is used more conversationally and in regular settings.

Importance of knowing SOGIE

Because most people still don’t know the difference between gender and sex, they should be educated with what SOGIE is all about. SOGIE, or Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Expression, is an individual’s self-expression in terms of his or her gender and sexual orientation.

trans women

Definition

SOGIE is an acronym that pertains to Sexual Orientation (SO) and Gender Identity Expression (GIE).

Sexual Orientation – Describes to whom a person is sexually attracted. Some people are attracted to people of a particular gender; others are attracted to people of more than one gender. Some are not attracted to anyone.

Gender Identity Expression – The ways in which a person identifies and/or expresses their gender, including self-image, appearance, and embodiment of gender roles. One’s sex (e.g. male, female, intersex, etc.) is usually assigned at birth based on one’s physical biology. One’s gender (e.g. male, female, genderqueer, etc.) is one’s internal sense of self and identity.

One’s gender expression (e.g. masculine, feminine, androgynous, etc.) is how one embodies gender attributes, presentations, roles, and more.

Laws and Progress

Albeit SOGIE’s positive progress in countries such as the USA, Canada, UK, the majority of countries in Europe, and Australia, the vast majority (globally) still deprives people of their rights to own and live their genuine SOGIE.

USA

Although the revolution of SOGIE rights in the US has been very good in Barrack Obama’s presidency (read Obama’s 20-Year Evolution on LGBT Rights), the hands of time’s direction maybe headed backwards with the recent rules that President Trump’s administration have been rolling out in the last quarter of his presidency.

However, SOGIE is still better in the US compared to other countries as same sex sarriage, medical support for transgender people, sex marker and name change for trans individuals are still readily available in the country.

Philippines

The SOGIE of Filipinos are still unprotected in the Philippines’ constitution as of 2020 but a lot of people have fought for the SOGIE Equality Bill to be passed into law.

Some of the brave women who fought for the SOGIE Equality Bill in the Philippines are Sass Rogando Sassot, Congresswoman Geraldine Roman, Geena Rocero, and more.

As of today, same sex marriage is still non-existent in the Philippines. Furthermore, transgender people can’t still change their gender markers and names in their legal documents.

Canada

Canada seems to be the perfect country if you want to live a full life while expressing your genuine SOGIE. Same sex marriage in Canada is legal and transgender individuals get to enjoy change of gender markers in legal documents, name change, free transgender healthcare and surgery (all sponsored by the government).

Thailand

Even if Thailand is also known as the country with the most beautiful transgender women, its laws are still surprisingly backwards when it comes to SOGIE.

While there are talks of legalizing same sex marriage in Thailand, it is still non-existent as of today. Transgender individuals are also not allowed to change their names and gender markers but what makes it better than other countries in Asia is that Thailand doesn’t discriminate transgender people in the workforce and they are well-tolerated in the country.

Support

Should you find the need to be more educated about transgenderism, gender, and, sex, you may visit Gender Bread or The Trevor Project. These organizations not only educates people about gender identity, but they also act as a support system for people who have been marginalized for expressing their true SOGIE.

Are you an advocate or you simply want to help in your own little way? Share this What’s the difference between Gender and Sex guide. Just doing so can impact the lives of many and help end gender exclusivity and transphobia.

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About the author

Amanda Valentine Dela Cruz
Just a random ladyboy playing with makeup and skincare. Loves bacon and the operating table. I'm also the author of the dating guide book Dating Transgender Women for Gentlemen. Know more -> dtwfgbook.com

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