Sex and gender are not the same. 

'Sex’ refers to the biological categories: male and female. 

Biological sex is the set of distinct reproductive, chromosomal, hormonal, physical and secondary sex characteristics that distinguish biological males and females. Some people may experience variations but 99.9% of people are clearly either biologically male or female. 

Our sex is determined at conception and our reproductive and secondary sex characteristics are shaped at foetal development. Our sex cannot be 'assigned' to us by anything other than the biological processes. Transgender and non-binary people may undergo social transition, hormonal and/or surgical procedures to align themselves socially and physically with the appearance and/or social roles of the sex they believe themselves to be. But the reality is that the underlying biology of sex differences cannot be changed. Chromosomes and basic physiological differences are permanent, inherited and remain at even a basic cellular level from conception to death, despite any hormonal or surgical changes that may occur through medical intervention. 

'Gender’ refers to the social norms and roles broadly relating to the ‘sexes,' (eg. dress = woman; suit and tie = man), though these days there are many more ‘gender identities’ than the two sexes.

Gender is a social system whereby women and girls are expected to be 'naturally' caring, focused on family and the home, quiet, weak and in need of protection. Men and boys on the other hand are expected to be bread-winners, strong, unemotional and do not cry. Both these stereotypes are harmful for men, women, boys and girls.

Confusing sex and gender is therefore wrong and unhelpful. 

We can't change sex. We can, and should, challenge gender.

Biological sex cannot be ignored. It is particularly important in the following areas:





Data collection

Further Resources

Fair Play for Women, Biological Sex Differences, 

Holly Lawford-Smith, Let’s talk about sex (–based rights for Australians), 1 July 2019: