Several advocacy organizations, health researchers, and even international and supranational organizations have made substantial efforts to communicate the difference between sex and gender while also addressing the issue about the importance of differentiating these two terms or concepts. However, despite these high-level involvements, the concepts are still used interchangeably in different situations and among specific communities.
The Difference Between Sex and Gender and the Importance of Differentiating and Properly Using These Two Concepts
Defining and Differentiating Sex and Gender
Sex is assigned at birth while gender pertains to how a person identifies himself or herself. This is the general difference adopted and communicated by organizations such as the United Nations, the World Health Organization, and the European Union.
A more specific definition is that sex is a label that is either “male” or “female” assigned at birth based on the genitals, hormones, and chromosomes an individual was born with. It is denoted by biological and physiological attributes that comprise biological sex.
Gender represents the socially constructed roles, behaviors, expressions, and identities of individuals. The World Health Organization noted that it varies from society to society and changes over time because it is a social construct.
Sex is fundamentally labeled based on the reproductive anatomy and other attributes related to the biological sex of an individual. Gender refers to the different socially constructed norms associated with boys, girls, women, men, and gender-diverse individuals.
It is important to note that not everyone identifies with the sex assigned at their birth and there is nothing wrong with it. The sex of an individual does not determine his or her gender identity and gender expression. This identity and expression can be fluid and diverse.
Importance of Understanding the Difference
There are two reasons why it is important to understand the difference between sex and gender and to use these two concepts in their proper context. These are for policymaking and in the promotion and delivery of services related to health care.
Promoting the difference between the two can help community leaders craft and implement better policies that adhere to the universal principles of equal rights while advancing inclusivity and respect among different groups of individuals.
The aforementioned can also help ensure that policies are fair and inclusive for people of all sexes and genders. Appreciating the difference between the two can also help to identify and address potential inequities and discrimination based on gender or sex
It can also help in the better delivery of healthcare services tailored to the specific needs and experiences of different patients. Note that there are different medical conditions and risk factors associated with a particular sex or gender.
Providers of health care can better identify potential risk factors, make more accurate diagnoses, and provide more effective treatments for their patients. This can ultimately lead to better health outcomes for people of all sexes and genders.