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Person—gender, code X

Identifying and definitional attributes

Metadata item type:Help on this termData Element
Short name:Help on this termGender
METeOR identifier:Help on this term635994
Registration status:Help on this termHealth, Standard 11/05/2017
ACT Health, Final 02/01/2019
Definition:Help on this term

The distinction between male, female, and other genders which are a combination of male and female, or neither male nor female, as represented by a code.

Context:Help on this term

Gender is an alternative to the commonly used sex metadata item. Gender may be used in a wide range of social, labour and demographic statistics where there is no requirement to collect the biological profile of a person.

Data Element Concept:Person—gender

Value domain attributes

Representational attributes

Representation class:Help on this termCode
Data type:Help on this termString
Format:Help on this termX
Maximum character length:Help on this term1
Permissible values:Help on this term
Supplementary values:Help on this term
9Not stated/inadequately described

Collection and usage attributes

Guide for use:Help on this term

The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) Standard for Sex and Gender Variables includes the following Alternate Code system:

M    Male

F    Female

X    Other

For statistical purposes, the following category codes, labels and definitions are preferred:

CODE 1   Male

Adults who identify themselves as men, and children who identify themselves as boys.

CODE 2   Female

Adults who identify themselves as women, and children who identify themselves as girls.

CODE 3   Other

Adults and children who identify as non-binary, gender diverse, or with descriptors other than man/boy or woman/girl.

The value meaning of 'Other' has been assigned to Code 3 for this value domain, which replaces 'Gender other/diverse' for the superseded value domain Gender code N. Terms such as ‘gender diverse’, ‘non-binary’, ‘unspecified’, 'trans', 'transgender', 'transsexual', 'gender queer', 'pan-gendered', 'androgynous' and 'inter-gender' are variously used to describe the 'Other' category of gender. Some cultures may have their own terms for gender identities outside male and female. The label ‘Other’ is used because a more descriptive term has not been widely agreed within the general community.

Comments:Help on this term

The ABS will periodically review its Standard for Sex and Gender Variables. This process will specifically investigate the appropriateness of the naming of the 'Other' category.

Source and reference attributes

Submitting organisation:Help on this term

Australian Institute of Health and Welfare

Origin:Help on this term

Australian Bureau of Statistics 2016. Standard for Sex and Gender Variables (Cat. no. 1200.0.55.012). Viewed 26 July 2016.

Attorney-General's Department 2015. Australian Government Guidelines on the Recognition of Sex and Gender. Viewed 26 July 2016.

Data element attributes

Collection and usage attributes

Guide for use:Help on this term

The term ‘gender’ refers to the way in which a person identifies their masculine or feminine characteristics. A person’s gender relates to their deeply held internal and individual sense of gender and is not always exclusively male or female. It may or may not correspond to their sex assigned at birth. As gender is determined by the individual, it can therefore be fluid over time.

Collection of gender does not include sex information, which is interrelated but conceptually distinct. The concept of sex is based on the physical or biological aspects of a person’s body while the concept of gender relates to the way a person feels, presents and is recognised within the general community and may refer to outward social markers such as their name, outward appearance, mannerisms and dress. Sexual orientation is a separate concept to sex and gender, involving a person’s emotional or sexual attraction to another person, and is not covered in collection of gender information.

In general, both sex and gender should not be collected in a single collection instrument. The Australian Government Guidelines on the Recognition of Sex and Gender recommends the preferred Australian Government approach of collecting and using gender information, with sex only being collected where there is a legitimate need to know the biological characteristics of the target population. It should be recognised that in some cases an individual may choose to report their sex when gender is being requested.

Organisations should ensure when they collect sex and/or gender information they use the correct terminology for the information they are seeking. Male and female are predominantly associated with the set of biological attributes that define the different types of sexes, while masculine and feminine characteristics are predominantly associated with the set of factors that make up gender. However, it should be recognised that male/female and masculine/feminine are sometimes used interchangeably to refer to sex and/or gender.

Collection methods:Help on this term

Standard Question Module

For the collection of gender, the following standard tick box question module could be used:

What is your gender? Please [tick/mark/select] one box.

[] Male

[] Female

[] Other, please specify _______________

Mandatory elements

The following elements should be included:

  • the term ‘gender’ in the question to clearly articulate the concept being collected;
  • label the response options ‘Male’, ‘Female’ and 'Other'; and
  • a note that only one response is permitted.

Optional elements

The following elements may be included:

  • the response option for 'Other' is labelled 'Other, please specify'; and
  • a write-in facility is available when the 'Other' response option is selected.

The inclusion of the write-in facility for 'Other' allows respondents the opportunity to describe their gender using a term they are comfortable with, whilst also maximising the potential for analysis of the responses provided. Where the 'Other' code has been selected for gender, the data element Person—gender, text X[X(99)] may be used to capture any further (optional) specification of gender descriptors.

Allowable variations

Minor variations to the question wording are allowed. For example:

Which of the following describes your gender? Please [tick/mark/select] one box


What gender do you identify as? Please [tick/mark/select] one box


Gender, please [tick/mark/select] one box.

Optional inclusions
Organisations should refrain from making assumptions about a person’s gender identity based on indicators such as their name, voice or appearance. Respondents should be presented with all response options for gender. The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) Standard for Sex and Gender Variables recommends a standard script explaining the importance of the question. Refer to the ABS standard for explanatory information that can be included in self-completed questionnaires (e.g., web forms and paper forms), or read in face-to-face and telephone interviews. The inclusion of explanatory material is optional and at the discretion of those undertaking the collection.

Supplementary values

CODE 9   Not stated/inadequately described

This supplementary value is used to code inadequately described responses and non-responses for gender. It is not to be used on primary collection forms. It is primarily for use in administrative collections when transferring data from data sets where the item has not been collected.

Source and reference attributes

Submitting organisation:Help on this term

Australian Institute of Health and Welfare

Origin:Help on this term

Australian Bureau of Statistics 2016. Standard for Sex and Gender Variables (Cat. no. 1200.0.55.012). Viewed 26 July 2016.

Attorney-General's Department 2015. Australian Government Guidelines on the Recognition of Sex and Gender. Viewed 26 July 2016.

Reference documents:Help on this term

AS4590 Interchange of Client Information, 2008, Sydney: Standards Australia

Relational attributes

Related metadata references:Help on this term

Supersedes Person—gender, code N Housing assistance, Proposed 28/06/2013, Health, Proposed 28/06/2013, Early Childhood, Proposed 28/06/2013, Homelessness, Proposed 28/06/2013, Indigenous, Endorsed 05/09/2014, Community Services (retired), Not progressed 23/01/2018

See also Person—gender, text X[X(99)] Health, Standard 11/05/2017

See also Person—sex, code X Health, Standard 11/05/2017, Early Childhood, Standard 24/07/2018, Homelessness, Standard 10/08/2018, Indigenous, Endorsed 16/10/2017, ACT Health, Final 08/08/2018

Implementation in Data Set Specifications:Help on this term

Your Experience of Service National Best Endeavours Data Set Health, Standard 25/01/2018

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