Difference between Sex and Gender

Key Difference: Sex is more commonly used to refer to the biological anatomy of a person. It is how the person was born. Gender is the role or differentiation that is created by the society. Gender is influenced by the culture and the society that a person is born in. Gender differs depending on the country, state, culture, religion, etc.

The terms ‘sex’ and ‘gender’ are commonly used interchangeably in today’s world. However, what many people fail to realize is that ‘sex’ and ‘gender’ refer to two complete different things. While ‘sex’ asks the biological anatomy of a person, ‘gender’ refers to social roles, norms, etc.

There is a distinct difference between the two words. Sex is more commonly used to refer to the biological anatomy of a person. It is how the person was born. The World Health Organization defines ‘sex’ as “the biological and physiological characteristics that define men and women.” According to this definition, the sex of a person is determined when the child is conceived. The terms ‘male’ and ‘female’ are used in order to distinguish a child’s sex. Another category that is not usually included in this is intersex, or a person that is born with reproductive or sexual anatomy that does not seem to fit one particular category.

The term ‘sex’ comprises of all factors that scientifically differentiate a man from a woman, such as being able to produce, having breasts, male bones are small larger compared to female, females are able to lactate, etc. All these factors are used to differentiate a man from woman or to determine the sex of a person.

Gender is the role or differentiation that is created by the society. WHO defines ‘gender’ as “the socially constructed roles, behaviors, activities, and attributes that a given society considers appropriate for men and women.” Gender is influenced by the culture and the society that a person is born in. Gender differs depending on the country, state, culture, religion, etc. Genders are categorized using ‘masculine’ and ‘feminine’. Transgender is sometimes believed to a category under gender. Transgender is when a person’s sex does not match up with the gender they identify themselves with. These include cross-dressers, transsexual people, etc.

The term ‘gender’ is believed to be culturally learned and not something a person is born with. Gender includes all the norms that a society sets in order to separate the male from the female, such as women receive less pay compared to men for the same job, women are expected to learn cooking and raising children, while men work; there are certain things that women are not allowed to do, such as drinking, smoking etc.

While sex is something that a person cannot change, gender and gender roles are something that a person continues to change. While in the old days a woman was not allowed to go out and earn money, these roles are now changing in many countries. Religion is believed to play a huge part when it comes to gender roles. Though these words differ, in many contexts, the meaning of gender has expanded to include ‘sex’ or to even replace ‘sex’.

Image Courtesy: penrynsurgery.co.uk, sadieamanda.files.wordpress.com

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