Sex and Gender

It is common for people to confuse sex, gender, gender identity and sexual identity, but they are all very different things. 


When babies are born, they are usually assigned to be either female or male based on whether they have a penis or vulva/vagina. This is often called the sex assigned at birth and it is usually recorded on the birth certificate.

Some people call the sex assigned at birth 'biological sex' but this does not fully capture the complex nature of bodies - our internal sex organs (reproductive system), external sex organs (genitals), genes and chromosomes (traits and characteristics inherited from our parents), and hormones.

People who are born with intersex variations are born with natural variations in these sex characteristics that do not fit the stereotypical and medical definitions for male or female bodies.


Gender is about personal identity and how a person feels inside. It is not about how other people label or describe them. The term gender describes a range of characteristics relating to being male and female and is socially formed. Gender is also about how a person feels. Do they feel like a male, female, both or neither?

Gender is not always binary (male or female). People can identify as being somewhere between male and female or not relating to either of those genders at all. A trans (short for transgender) person is someone whose gender does not exclusively align with the sex they were assigned at birth. Trans can be used as an umbrella term, but not everyone uses it to describe themselves. For example, a man who was assigned female at birth might refer to himself as 'a trans man', 'a man with a trans history' or just 'a man'. IT's important to use the terms someone uses to describe themselves.


Pronouns are words people use to refer to each other and themselves when they are not using their names. Many men use the pronouns 'he/him/his'. Many women use the pronouns 'she/her/hers'. Some people use gender neutral pronouns such as 'they/their/theirs' (for example, 'Pip drives their car to work. They don't like walking because it takes them too long').

If you are unsure what someone's pronouns are, you can introduce yourself and the pronouns you use. This has prompt them to do the same. Otherwise, you can ask them respectfully (preferably in private).

Someone's pronouns may be context-specific. For example, someone might not use their pronoun in a particular environment or around particular people because they do not feel safe or comfortable to do so. Some people might also use more than one pronoun.


If you would like some more information about gender diversity, contact the Freedom Centre on (08) 9228 0354 or or go to the Freedom Centre website (external site)

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