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Distinguishing Sex and Gender to Reduce Harm


The National Society of Genetic Counselors (NSGC) affirms and acknowledges that sex and gender are distinct concepts that should not be used interchangeably. Sex is a concept used to describe people based on characteristics such as internal and external genitalia, chromosomes, and hormones. People may have variations of sex characteristics that do not exclusively align in a male and female sex binary. Moreover, it is essential to note that sex chromosomes do not solely determine an individual’s sex; rather, numerous factors play a role in influencing sex characteristics. In contrast, gender describes the self-understanding of being a man, woman, both, non-binary, different gender, or agender. Both sex and gender are dynamic and influenced by sociocultural norms.

NSGC asserts that health care that is accessible, equitable, and affirming is medically necessary for transgender, gender expansive, and intersex people. The misuse of the concepts of sex and gender and the misrepresentation of genetic concepts fuel discrimination against and threaten the health and safety of the LGBTQIA2S+* communities. NSGC is supportive of efforts that fight inequity, injustice, and discrimination targeting LGBTQIA2S+ communities.


*Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer/questioning, intersex, asexual, two-spirit, etc. 


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