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Sex, gender, and gender identity are all related, but different parts of who you are. For lots of people sex, gender, and gender identity line up. But not for everyone.

What’s the difference between sex and gender?

It’s pretty easy to confuse biological sex (sometimes called “sex assigned at birth”) with gender and gender identity. They’re related, but different.

  • Sex is a label that’s usually first given by a doctor based upon the genes, hormones, and body parts (like genitals) you’re born with. It goes on your birth certificate and describes your body as female or male. Some people’s sex doesn’t fit into male or female, called intersex.

  • Gender is how society thinks we should look, think, and act as girls and women and boys and men. Each culture has beliefs and informal rules about how people should act based on their gender. For example, many cultures expect and encourage men to be more aggressive than women.

  • Gender identity is how you feel inside and how you show your gender through clothing, behavior, and personal appearance. It’s a feeling that begins early in life.

There are lots of ways people express their gender. Learn more about sex and gender.

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