How sex, gender and gender identity differ

How our identities go beyond our biology.


It’s common for people to confuse sex, gender, gender identity and gender expression.  But they’re actually different things.

Sex is an anatomical label — male or female — that we’re assigned by someone else, usually a doctor, at birth based on a visual assessment of the apparent genitals we’re born with. It goes on our birth certificate and attempts to describe what we are. It may or may not accurately describe chromosomal status or reproductive ability.

Gender is much more complex. It’s also generally male or female but for some it may manifest outside the common polar opposites. Instead of being about body parts, it represents an inherent sense of self separate from simple anatomy – who we are rather that what we are as defined by others. Sex and gender align in many, but not all people. Those for whom the alignment is not complete are often described by the term transgender.

Gender identity is who we know ourselves to be as free-spirited individuals with the liberty to live true to ourselves and gender expression is how we choose to express our gender identity to the world through personality, behavior and personal appearance. Gender identity for many becomes firmly established very early in life, whether it matches anatomical sex or not. For others, gender self-discovery may occur later in life.

Gender identity is an intrinsic part of every individual and rejection by others of this self-obvious reality leads to psychological pain or trauma that has led such notable organizations as the American Medical Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Nurses Association, the American Academy of Nursing and the American Psychological Association to officially acknowledge the importance of recognizing gender and respecting gender identity.

You can learn more about this topic at The Trevor Project. You may also find useful a glossary of terms used on this topic and others within Asante.


After the civil unrest in summer 2020, it became apparent that America — and Asante — must do more to promote social justice and try to eliminate biases. The result was the Equity, Diversity and Inclusion committee.

The team of employees and leaders is focusing on employee engagement, patient engagement, community outreach, policy management, employee and leadership development, and communications

The intent of the work not only is to embrace diversity at Asante, but to recognize our commonalities. If you are interested in the work of equity, diversity and inclusion, email us with your comments and suggestions.

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Tags: Diversity, EDI, equity, gender, identity, inclusion, Robert Begg, sex
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If you need answers for a personal work matter, please contact the author or department directly instead of leaving a comment.

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