Duhaime's Law Dictionary


Gender Definition:

The social and cultural construction of what it means to be a man or a woman, including roles, expectations and behaviour; the association of an individual with being either a male or a female, or both or neither.

Related Terms: Sex, Transsexual

The report of the New Zealand Human Rights Commission To Be Who I Am, the Report of the Inquiry into Discrimination Experienced by Transgendered People, the following definitions are proposed

"Gender: The social and cultural construction of what it means to be a man or a woman, including roles, expectations and behaviour. Gender identity (is) a person's internal, deeply felt sense of being male or female (or something in between). A person's gender identity may or may not correspond with their sex."

In her 2003 paper, Ms Polster suggests that while the:"... terms sex and gender are often used as synonyms in everyday life as well as in legal contexts ... they are nevertheless different from each other."

She continues:

"Sex usually refers to one's physical anatomy at birth - that is, being born male or female. Society considers a variety of biological factors in defining male and female, and in specifying one's status as a man or a woman.

"In order to establish the sex of an individual, the following factors may be relevant: sex chromosomes, gonads (that is the presence or absence of testes or ovaries), sex hormones, internal reproductive organs, external genitalia, secondary sex characteristics, and psychological sex.

"In contrast, gender is a more complex and socially constructed matter. It relates to those factors traditionally associated with being male or female and can be defined as the sum of the characteristics which are traditionally or culturally associated with being male or female.

"Gender identity is an aspect of identity and can be defined as the psychological sex. It is part of the individual's sense of self, particularly the sense of being male or female, and does not necessarily have to conform to the sex assigned at birth. For example, a person biologically born as male can have a female gender identity."

In Dobre v Amtrak, Justice Hutton of the United States District Court, referring to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (42 U.S.C. § 2000e-2), wrote:

"The term "sex" in Title VII refers to an individual's distinguishing biological or anatomical characteristics, whereas the term "gender" refers to an individual's sexual identity."

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