1200.0.55.012 - Standard for Sex and Gender Variables, 2016  
Latest ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 02/02/2016  First Issue
   Page tools: Print Print Page Print all pages in this productPrint All RSS Feed RSS Bookmark and Share Search this Product



The classifications underpinning the variables 'sex' and 'gender' are similar, but the criterion used to distinguish between the categories in the two classifications differ.

The criterion used to distinguish the categories of the sex standard classification is the set of biological attributes that define the different types of sexes (i.e. males, females and others). Whereas the criterion used to distinguish the categories of the gender standard classification is the set of factors that make up a person's chosen identity within society.

Table 1 below describes the category codes, labels, and definitions of the sex classification and the gender classification.


Preferred CodeAlternate CodeLabelDefinition

The Sex Standard Classification

1MMalePersons who have male or predominantly masculine biological characteristics, or male sex assigned at birth.
2FFemalePersons who have female or predominantly feminine biological characteristics, or female sex assigned at birth.
3XOtherPersons who have mixed or non-binary biological characteristics (if known), or a non-binary sex assigned at birth.

The Gender Standard Classification

1MMale Adults who identify themselves as men, and children who identify themselves as boys.
2FFemaleAdults who identify themselves as women, and children who identify themselves as girls.
3XOtherAdults and children who identify as non-binary, gender diverse, or with descriptors other than man/boy or woman/girl.

Although both classifications use identical category codes and labels, the definitions of each category are unique and align with the concepts of sex and gender. The use of identical labels for both classifications also aligns with the Australian Government Guidelines on the Recognition of Sex and Gender, November 2015 (Attorney-General's Department).

While the majority of the population identifies both their sex and gender as either male or female and describe themselves as such, a small proportion of the population identify their sex and/or gender as other than male or female. The label 'Other' is used in this standard's classifications to describe the third categories of both sex and gender because a more descriptive term has not been widely agreed within the general community. The use of 'Other' is also consistent with best practice for developing statistical classifications that identify and accurately label categories that make up a significant proportion of an overall population (e.g. 'Male' and 'Female'), with the remaining categories of a population brought together to form a third category labelled 'Other'.

Terms such as 'indeterminate' and 'intersex' are variously used to describe the third category of sex, while terms such as 'gender diverse' is used to describe the third category of gender, and 'non-binary' and 'unspecified' are terms used to describe the third categories of both sex and gender. Classifications using such labels, including the terminology recommended in the Australian Government Guidelines on the Recognition of Sex and Gender, November 2015 (i.e. Indeterminate/Intersex/Unspecified), align in general with the scope of the 'Other' categories in these standard classifications.

Further, this standard recommends the inclusion of a 'please specify' write-in facility for the 'Other' categories giving respondents the opportunity to describe their sex and/or gender in a way they are comfortable with.

While the population currently classified to the 'Other' category in either the sex or gender classification is small, some users of this standard may require a further breakdown of the 'Other' category, for example when undertaking an in depth social study. In such cases, researchers may add a second level to the classification to disaggregate the 'Other' categories. The glossary of this standard can be used to assist with the identification of appropriate subcategories and labels. If a user wants to undertake a complex study of sex and/or gender diversity, please contact the ABS for further advice.

The ABS will review the 'Other' labels, and may provide further guidance on appropriate 'Other' subcategories and labels, when this standard is next reviewed, if further information (e.g. cognitive testing, analysis of actual responses, updates to related standards and guidelines) is available to inform development.


The following supplementary code is used to code inadequately described responses and non-responses for both sex and gender:

0 - Not stated/Inadequately described


The variables 'sex' and 'gender' apply to all persons.


The 'sex' and 'gender' classifications are not applicable to other variables.


Input Procedures (for both sex and gender)

Input coding and imputation procedures may be necessary when data is missing, unreported or unavailable.

The UN Handbook on Population and Housing Census Editing, Revision 1, (Sections 346-347) suggests that where individual sex data items are unavailable, "...values can be assigned alternately, starting with either one ['male' or 'female'], using the opposite sex for the second invalid entry and continuing in this fashion".

This process would also apply for the collection of gender statistics.