Sex vs. Gender: A Road Map

Isabella Yuson, Staff Writer

On Google, “gender” is listed as a synonym of “sex.” Likewise, “sex” is listed as a synonym as “gender.” By this logic, “sex” and “gender” are the same thing. However, this is not the case. “Sex” and “gender” has many differences.

Firstly, sex is biologically based: the X chromosomes and the Y chromosomes and the combination of the two. On the other hand, gender refers to the characteristics that society deems as “masculine” or “feminine.” Just by their definitions, there is a distinction between the two terms.

The definition of these terms may sound simple, but it is a lot more complicated than it seems. As time progresses, there are many other subcategories of these terms: “Some people think there are two sexes: male and female, and two genders: boy and girl,” explains Cameron Lambert ’19. “Both of these are wrong, as there are many unique combinations of chromosomes and besides XX and XY, and people can identify as gender binary, queer, non-binary, trans, etc.”

According to Live Science, “recent research has found that a person can have a variety of different combinations of sex chromosomes and genes, particularly those who identify as LBGT.” Additionally, according to Science ABC, intersex people, people that inherits both male and female characteristics, make up 0.1% of the human race. For example, an intersex person may have the chromosomal combination of XXY.  This means that many people are not a definite male or a definite female; therefore, there are more sexes than male and female.

Gender is also very complex. There are many identities that people define themselves as that differ from the stereotypical “masculine” and “feminine” labels. For example, a people who is androgynous is a person who does not identify as “masculine” or “feminine.” A person who is gender fluid does not have one gender identity. On the other hand, a person who is agender does not identify themselves as having a gender. These are only a few of the many gender identities people define themselves as.

Indeed, it is clear that “sex” and “gender” discuss two different things. “Sex” is chromosomal and “gender” is about someone’s characteristics. Nevertheless, there are some questions that still do arise from this debate like “what is the considered ‘masculine’ or ‘feminine’?” Additionally, even though there are distinctions between the two, there are some crossovers between the terms. Despite these things, it is important for everyone to educate themselves about the differences between “sex” and “gender.”

“But just because somebody doesn’t know the difference doesn’t mean they’re a bad person,” mentions Jonathan Driscoll ’20. “It just means that they haven’t really been told or looked into it.”