When filling out our demographic form, you come across two side by side questions: what is your sex (as on file with insurance) and what is your gender. People have asked us why we ask the same question twice. These terms are not synonymous and are actually asking about two different facets of your identity.
Biological sex: Designated by a medical professional at time of birth. Typically reflected by genitalia noted on exam at time of birth, but also determined by chromosomes and hormonal makeup. Disorders of sexual development can occur, putting a person in a spectrum between the M and F categories. Unfortunately, insurance companies typically see things as fairly black and white and will only allow an M or F designation. Sex can be legally changed on pieces of identification like a drivers license or with insurance, but is often a challenging process and regulations on who is a candidate to change gender are different state to state.
Gender: The identity, in terms of “male-ness” or “female-ness” that one perceives themselves to be within their own self awareness. Gender cannot be defined by an exam, as it is within a person’s own concept. Some identify as male, some as female, and some as neither or a combination.
A person can see themselves anywhere on this line.
M ß———————-without gender——————à F
A person’s gender identity may match their biological sex: These people are referred to as cisgender.
A person’s gender identity may diverge from their biological sex: These people are referred to as transgender.
Sexual attraction/sexual orientation: A person can be attracted to individuals of the same gender, opposite gender, or those anywhere on the gender spectrum. A person’s own sexual attraction is not determined by their biological sex or their gender, but is an independent factor and defined by that person alone.