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People and places Sex, gender and gender identity

The distinction between sex, gender and gender identity is a complex area:

  • sex is often used to relate to biological characteristics but (in terms of practical usage) may also refer to legal sex, lived sex or self-identified sex
  • gender is often used interchangeably with sex, but may be seen as reflecting social, cultural and psychological constructs
  • gender identity refers to personal perception of gender

ONS releases should use the term “sex”, unless they are referring to:

  • data sources that specifically ask about gender or gender identity
  • commonly used and recognised terms, such as “the gender pay gap”

The dataset has sex categories of female and male.

The chart shows that the gender pay gap has steadily decreased over time.

The gender identity statistics include categories such as trans female, trans male, and non-binary.

Women or girls and men or boys

If a population is made up of only adult females, it should be described as “women”. If it includes children, use “females”. If it is only children, use “girls”.

If a population is made up of only adult males, it should be described as “men”. If it includes children, use “males”. If it is only children, use “boys”.

The dataset includes females from ages 10 to 24 years.

The chart shows the social class of men aged 45 years and over.

The next publication will analyse reading ability for girls and boys aged under 16 years.

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