I've this problem: as a policy, we usually strive to leave out gender considerations if possible. If not possible, we use a wide range of genders . Not as extreme as Facebook, but something more rational around physiological genres (Male, Female) and commonly accepted LGBT concept (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transexual).

Problem is that now we need genres based on physiological aspects due to an algorithm we're using were physiology is the key (and obviously, a woman is not physiologically the same as a man, despite the chosen gender identity).

Our closest solution is to include male/female and a short message explaining the reasons for this. However, this approach deals with genitalia, and transexuals were born as one sex and now are another sex, which means that physiological aspects are mixed.

So question is: is there an accepted way to deal with this kind of problem without leaving out anyone, yet covering all bases?

EDIT: this is for a healthcare app dashboard The thing is this app uses an algorithm to define certain specific vital stats that are different for males and females BUT transgender uses hormones that modifies some of these vitals. We don't know until at least a V2 if the app will have transgender users, so my question goes around some wording or conceptual approach to deal with such sensitive information. Note that We're ok with just using male, female, other ** and if **other is chosen, explain the Other option and why we ask for that, but I was wondering if there's a better way

EDIT 2: I completely forgot about this question. For those interested, we went with "Other", and when this option is selected, a dialog with a sensible message pops up asking user to specify what they mean, and also requests information on treatment based on their answer. Thank you Zoe, Ivonne and all those who commented, you were really helpful. Sorry for being this late

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    Are you looking for something beyond the definition that comes with "I was born with a penis" or "I was born with a vagina"? They're blunt statements that someone may no longer psychologically identify with, but they are clear in meaning. Commented Oct 6, 2015 at 23:26
  • just looking for the most accurate way, trying to keep those definitions you mention as well as modified sexuality in check (keep in mind I realize perceived genre or identity choices are a no go, just catering to physiological genres and trying not to annoy anyone in teh process). The example I mention (transexual/transgender) would fall in the "I was born with X genitalia, yet both my genitalia and my physiology has changed"
    – Devin
    Commented Oct 6, 2015 at 23:36
  • There's a difference to be made between Sex and Gender. Sex is biological, while gender is the identification part. So if you really need them, you can ask both :-) medicalnewstoday.com/articles/232363.php
    – Xabre
    Commented Oct 7, 2015 at 6:57
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    This is a challenge because it's easy to upset people when you get their label wrong, or when you ignore their label altogether. You've got a few things mixed together in your question. The L, G, and B in LGBT are about sexual orientation (usually about self-identity rather than about sexual behaviour), but since you don't seem to be asking about sexual orientation, I won't get into the A (asexual), Q (queer), and so on. The T in LGBT is about gender, like M and F are. In some contexts, you may need to distinguish between sex (chromosomes) and gender (the social construct).
    – JeromeR
    Commented Oct 7, 2015 at 9:49
  • Perhaps; gender: male, female, gay, lesbian, transgender (male - stand in toilet), transgender (female - sit on toilet). Where gay is considered as "male version" of human, and lesbian as "female version".
    – Kyslik
    Commented Oct 13, 2015 at 12:53

2 Answers 2


If this is a healthcare app, there is at least two very different ways to tackle the issue, based on the diversion of mental health and physical health. If this is a non-healthcare app, asking for this kind of information is quite invasive.

Hoping this is a healthcare app, to give a definitive answer I would need more information on use cases, but based on your question:

  1. If you need users to choose what gender/sex they were assigned at birth, before the possible transition to a gender they identify with now, the term you need is just that, "gender assigned at birth". This will answer to "which set of visible genitalia they were born with". NB: sex assignment at birth is often a faulty method that doesn't spot people born with the mosaic sex, one set of hidden genitalia or else https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sex_assignment

  2. If you need users to identify their current set of genitalia, I think you could just be blunt and ask them to choose from four options:

    • female genitalia
    • male genitalia
    • female and male genitalia
    • mosaic genitalia.

Important thing here would be to add a memo tooltip where you would explain why the service needs such private information. Another important thing would be to never mix language for gender (social construct and compound of behavior) and sets of genitalia, because these are two completely different things.

  1. Lesbian, Gay and Bisexual is not a gender, it's a sexual orientation.

  2. Some other genders: agender, bigender, queer.

Upd: adding a classification for clarity: enter image description here

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    I should leave it alone, but for me, Queer is not a gender but a political stripe (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Queer_Nation) and also reminiscent of the whole "retake-the-language" movement of the early 90s, so also political. Mind you, gender is political, too. /runs away/
    – JeromeR
    Commented Oct 7, 2015 at 9:52
  • While I don't necessarily agree or disagree with you on this, I'm not going to engage, as 1. this is an extremely sensitive/flammable topic, and 2. the whole gender conversation was started by the TS, and my answer lies in the line and in the context of the question itself and UXSE requirements. Discussing political notions and connotations of the gender would be rather off topic.
    – Zoe K
    Commented Oct 7, 2015 at 10:03
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    Yes. This is indeed for a healthcare app, I have added it as an edit.
    – Devin
    Commented Oct 7, 2015 at 15:06
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    Ok, thanks for the update. Thing is, if the concern is about hormones, gender transition is not the only process that requires hormonal therapy, it is used in so many cases for all possible genders. Plus not all trans * people are on HRT. I think "other" works fine here per se, but it shouldn't necessarily translate into "hormonal therapy" for the database/data services. Maybe, if this is exclusively about hormonal therapy and other factors that mess with the vital stats, it would work better to just list those factors as checkboxes. "Check if you are undergoing: HRT/chemo/etc"
    – Zoe K
    Commented Oct 7, 2015 at 15:35
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    Hey Devin, I've added a classification of genders, hope it helps.
    – Zoe K
    Commented Oct 13, 2015 at 9:58

As others have already pointed out, gender is about identity, and sex is your biological sex, and then there is sexual orientation (heterosexual, gay, lesbian, bisexual, asexual) which should not be confused with gender or sex.

Biological sex can include male, female, and several different forms of intersex.

Gender can include genderqueer, genderfluid, metagender (beyond gender), transgender male, transgender female, cisgender male, cisgender female.

There are seven different characteristics which can indicate biological sex.

If you actually need physiological information, then as suggested above, you would need to specify why.

Check websites about both intersex and transgender people for more information.

And by the way, Facebook actually consulted with the LGBTQIA community when they developed the categories they use.

In an application that I worked on, information about people being transgender was hidden away in a separate section and displayed only to the equal opportunities people.

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    "In an application that I worked on, information about people being transgender was hidden away in a separate section and displayed only to the equal opportunities people." — that is a great approach.
    – Zoe K
    Commented Oct 7, 2015 at 14:52

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