The development of the Standard for Sex and Gender Variables is the result of a review of the ABS Sex standard (Demographic Variables, 1999 (cat. no. 1285.0)).
This standard explains the interrelated concepts of sex and gender. It also defines standard classification categories for each concept and includes question modules for the collection of sex and gender information. Users of this standard need to identify the concept they want to collect (i.e. either sex or gender), then refer to the appropriate sections of the standard for guidance.
The concept of sex is based on the physical or biological aspects of a person's body while the concept of gender relates to the way a person feels, presents and is recognised within the general community and may refer to outward social markers such as their name, outward appearance, mannerisms and dress. Sexual orientation is a separate concept and is not covered in this standard.
Although there are no definitive figures on the subject, the findings of various research indicates that for the majority of people, usually around 98%, there is a clear correlation between their sex and gender (e.g. biological sex is male and gender is male). For this reason the conceptual difference between sex and gender is not well understood by the general public with the two concepts often used interchangeably in legislation, research, and the media. This standard brings both concepts together to provide each with context and clarify the meaning and intention of each.
This standard was developed in consideration of the Australian Government Guidelines on the Recognition of Sex and Gender, November 2015 (Attorney-General's Department) which complements Commonwealth anti-discrimination law (The Sex Discrimination Amendment (Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity and Intersex Status) Bill 2013) and the Australian Privacy Principles, (Privacy Act 1988). The guidelines apply to all Australian Government departments and agencies that maintain personal records and/or collect sex and/or gender information, and should be referred to when implementing this standard. All users of this standard need to take into account relevant legislation, including anti-discrimination law and privacy principles.