Sex and Gender

"Sex" is the classification of people as either female or male. At birth, infants are assigned a sex based on a combination of bodily characteristics including: chromosomes, hormones, internal reproductive organs, and genitals. Sex refers to the biological characteristics that make us either male, female or intersex (describing a person whose biological sex is ambiguous).

"Gender" is a term often used to describe someone's sex (e.g. "we are finding out the baby's gender"), however it actually means something quite different. While "sex" describes our biological assigned sex characteristics (i.e. male, female or intersex), "gender" is a social construction referring to the behaviours that people engage in that may describe them as being either "masculine", "feminine", or gender non-conforming, meaning that the individual's gender-linked behaviours differ to some degree from stereotypical male and female behaviour. "Gender non-conforming" or "gender-variant", and "transgender" are terms often used to describe folks whose gender identity or gender expression do not 'match' their assigned sex at birth..

An individual's gender will typically consist of the following two elements:

  1. Gender Identity - this is one's internal, personal sense of being either a man, woman (or a boy or a girl), both or neither. As is the case for some transgender and gender non-confirming individuals, their gender identity may not 'match' the biological sex they were assigned at birth.
  2. Gender Expression - this is one's external manifestation of their gender identity to others. Gender identity is usually expressed through "masculine," "feminine" or gender-variant behaviour, clothing, haircut, voice or body characteristics.

(Sourced from GLAAD and the Canadian Teachers' Federation (CTF) Guide for Educators, "Supporting Transgender and Transsexual Students in K-12 Schools").

Resources provided below will primarily cover sexism, sex and gender equality, gender diversity and healthy relationships. You may also go to the section titled, LGBTQ+ for more resources related to gender diversity.