sex or gender?

Subject: sex or gender?
From: Tammy Hale <tammyh -at- FGM -dot- COM>
Date: Fri, 10 Feb 1995 03:42:15 -0500

Dear techwriters,

When referring to whether a person is male or female, do you prefer the
traditional term "sex," or do you prefer the term "gender?"

Websters 9th and Meriam-Webster indicate that gender has to do with
grammatical articles in languages (feminine, masculine, neuter), and that
sex is the categories of male and female that people are divided into
(based on their reproductive roles).

It sounds to me that, technically, the term "sex" is correct. However,
"sex" has taken on more connotations than male or female. Sex can refer to
orientation; it can refer to an identity that is contrary to one's sexual
organs (i.e., being transexual). Regardless of what one's views are on
these topics, these are identities that exist in our culture now, that have
never been formally recognized before, and that are related to the word
"sex." I'm inclined to think that "gender" has become more accurate
because it has less to do with identity.

I'm debating this issue with one of my (male) co-workers, so arguments that
agree with my position are much appreciated. :-) Ofcourse, I welcome all
points of view and, if I am wrong, will respectfully to concede.

Thanks in advance,
Tammy
tammyh -at- fgm -dot- com

P.S. Anyone who fears reprisal for controversial opinions may feel free to
e-mail responses directly to me.


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