Understanding Gender & Sex

Understanding Gender & Sex


  • Sex – (The noun) refers to physical differences between male and female bodies, including the reproductive system and/or other biological characteristics.  Sex is most commonly divided into the categories of male and female however biological sex is much more diverse (see Intersex definition).


  • Intersex – A person whose chromosomes, reproductive organs or genitalia vary in some way from what is traditionally considered clearly male or female in terms of biological sex. This may be apparent at birth or become apparent later in life - often at puberty, or in the case of some women, when they conceive or try to conceive.


We recognise that this definition uses a medical model however it important to recognise that some people proudly identify with this term.

  • Gender – Refers to the attitudes, feelings and behaviours that a given culture associates with a person’s biological sex. The terms girl/woman, boy/man are assigned at birth on the basis of biological sex and have many socially constructed expectations, standards and norms that can limit and oppress people’s gender expression. 


  • Gender Binary – The traditional western system of regarding gender as having only two options: men (with all the traditional notions of masculinity) and women (with all the traditional notions of femininity).


  • Gender Identity - A person’s deeply felt internal and individual experience of gender, which may or may not correspond with the sex assigned to them at birth.  


  • Gender Expression – A person’s external gender related appearance including clothing, speech and mannerisms. Usually defined as connected to masculinity or femininity, however we recognise that people express their gender out with these traditional notions.  


  • Cisgender – Individuals who have a match between the gender they were assigned at birth, their bodies and their personal identity. In other words those who are not, or do not identify as transgender.