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A diagram of the sex spectrum.

Another diagram of the sex spectrum.

An infographic about the bimodal spectrum[1][2][3]

Sex is a group of physical differences in a species primarily defined by the gametes produced by an organism, and often also associated with differences in chromosomes, hormones, genitals, and secondary sex characteristics. Sex is often thought of as only including male and female, but similar to gender, sex is a spectrum with male and female being two extreme points. People can be intersex, which means they do not cleanly fall into "male" or "female".

One's sex can be identified through a variety of sex characteristics and things that determine which characteristics are displayed. Displayed characteristics are mainly determined by one's chromosomes, the hormones one was exposed to in the womb, and sometimes the dominant hormones one's body reacts to after puberty. Sex can also sometimes be determined by certain characteristics, however looking at a single sex characteristic does not always accurately determine one's actual sex. Sex characteristics include:

  • Chromosomes
  • Genitalia
  • Gonads and related reproductive structures.
  • Secondary sex characteristics.
  • Dominant hormones in one's body after puberty.

One may change their sex characteristics through surgery, hormone replacement therapy, or other medical intervention, however one cannot change their sex itself.

If one was born with a combination of chromosomes and sex characteristics that can neatly fall into male or female one is considered dyadic. If one was born with a combination of chromosomes and sex characteristics that cannot be neatly fit into male or female one is considered intersex. Intersex is not a single body type, but includes a wide range variations in any of characteristics or combination of characteristics. If one is not intersex, but no longer has a combination of chromosomes and sex characteristics that fits the definition of dyadic then they may be considered altersex.

Assigned Sex at Birth

One's assigned sex at birth (ASAB) is typically used to determine one's assigned gender at birth (AGAB). It is typically male (AMAB), female (AFAB), or intersex (AXAB), though intersex babies are often given non-consensual surgery so their body is closer to male or female. One is typically raised with the assumption that one will identify with their gender assigned at birth, though assigned sex does not determine one's gender later in life. ASAB is not always one's actual sex, as some intersex people are assign male or female at birth, because their condition of intersex either is not externally obvious or did not present itself until puberty.

Studies show that those who are raised in a neutral manner (UAB) tend to have a better sense of identity, understanding, and social skills.


Under the gender binary it is believed that gender can be assigned based on sex, however gender can differ from ones biological sex (transgender/transine). Comfort or discomfort with one's sex characteristics may help in determining one's gender, however this is not always the case.