To answer this question you need to be fully aware of how societies have progressed with time. Sex and gender used to refer to the same aspect of self-identity, but now each term can relate to varying distinctive properties with which people identify.
Not to mention that sex and gender are two fragile concepts that can be highly perspective depending on people and people’s perception.
What is your sex?
When talking about the sex of an individual the matter tends to be biology-exclusive. All people have 46 chromosomes; men have 44 autosomes and XY gonosomes whereas women have 44 autosomes and XX gonosomes.
This genetic makeup allows for distinctive characteristics that vary between males and females (hormone levels, reproductive systems, secondary sexual characteristics, etc.), and it draws a line between the sexes.
Now, typically, your set of chromosomes is what allows you to identify with a specific “sex” (female or male), but biology isn’t always black and white; some people, due to a certain genetic error, are born with a single X sex chromosome (Turner syndrome) or XXY sex chromosomes (Klinefelter syndrome), for example.
In those cases, the sex of an individual might be hard to identify, and some people even undergo surgery in order to balance out this genetic abnormality.
Nonetheless, the term “sex” remains a biological/genetic reference, and it is subject to scientific studies that generally have nothing to do with social structures.
What is your gender?
As we’ve mentioned before, “sex” and “gender” tend to be used interchangeably among people, but there is actually a perspective difference between the two.
When talking about gender, the matter is more socially-oriented; gender is usually correlated to “gender roles” and how a certain society believes each gender should behave.
Gender stereotypes can be found in the most socially advanced societies as girls are expected to be fragile, sensitive, and doll-like, and boys are expected to be cold-hearted and independent.
We say “boyish” when referring to a free-spirited/careless individual, and we say “girly” when beauty or fashion is involved. Those social norms, despite being a no-brainer today, have been engraved into our mindset due to our perception of “gender roles”.
Despite the substantial effort and accomplishments, some people have achieved in the name eliminating gender stereotypes and establishing a flexible mentality among people, there remains a huge gap within certain societies that speaks volumes about our slow yet sparking progress.
In Saudi Arabia, driving is considered a taboo for women, but that doesn’t mean that the community as a whole agrees to that gender stereotype. The clashing majority, however, do, and that is but an example of how gender realization society’s perception of it can alter the entire makeup of a community.
It is also worth mentioning that many people identify with genders that aren’t necessarily based on their sexual characteristics; the LGBTQ community has witnessed a rise unlike any other in the last few years, and it all goes back to “gender”.
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Differences between Sex and Gender
Here is the sex vs. gender comparison table so you can pinpoint the difference between sex and gender:
|Sex is more biology-related; your genetic makeup plays a determining factor here||Gender is mostly used when referring to your social identity where practices play the determining factor|
|The sex of an individual is generally agreed on among people due to its scientific basis||Gender is subject to matters like gender stereotypes and “gender roles” where society takes it upon itself to establish your identity|
|There are several genetic abnormalities that could make it hard to identify the sex of an individual.||Gender is highly dependent on how a person perceives him/herself, and it is generally a fluid matter.|