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My niece, who is expecting a baby, raised the following question regarding the choice between "the baby's sex" and "the baby's gender" and I told her I would post the question here. I don't have strong feelings about it one way or the other, but I probably tend to use "gender" just because the word "sex" has so many other implications. Opinions, please? Would you ask about the baby's "sex" or "gender"? (Of course, once the baby is born it would be most natural to ask "Is it a boy or a girl?" But before birth, the question is usually "are you going to find out (or, are you going to tell people) the * of the baby?")

I know the words "sex" and "gender" are often used interchangeably and have multiple definitions that overlap, however, I have always thought that the word "sex" refers to someone's physiological reproductive organs that they were given at birth, whereas "gender" refers more to a social sexual identity that might change throughout a person's lifetime. Therefore, I always refer to the "sex" of a baby, but use gender when I'm referring to more social constructions of sex and sexual identity. Some dictionary definitions I've found support this theory, see below, and yet others seem to provide virtually the same definition for both "sex" and "gender."

Sex - The property or quality by which organisms are classified as female or male on the basis of their reproductive organs and functions.

Gender - Sexual identity, especially in relation to society or culture.
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Just a personal idea, Khoff: I don't see how the word 'sex' can have any other implication (in relation to a baby) than whether it is a boy or girl. The implications in other contexts might complicate the choice of words, though. In which case, the dictionary distinctions you provide might be somewhat useful. All of which is not to say that we are not made nervous at every turn about whether we are saying such things in a politically correct way. It seems, more than ever, in our time, that it is easy to have an innocent remark interpreted in an unintended way-sometimes to humorous, other times to embarrassing effects.
Personally, I would use GENDER just as khoff. However, I wrote it(gender) in another tread here on EnglishForward and I was told that people from North America rarely used this word when referring to children/babies. They obviously tend to use sex, but I also get several other associations when saying this word.

As everyone can see, I am not a native English speaker, which probably makes me a little unauthorised in this field.

Jay
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Hello Khoff

I believe that "gender" had a sense of "kind" or "sort" in ME (cf. "genre"), but then spent several centuries languishing as a purely grammatical term. It seems to have moved towards its modern usage first as a jocularity, and then as a euphemism, as "sex" in turn moved away from "male/female" and towards "hanky-panky".

MrP
Hi guys,

As one word or phrase is rejected as having acquired naughty overtones, the process begins with the new word. I seem to remember reading in the paper a remark by some young man that he hadn't had gender with his girl-friend.

Best wishes, Clive
LOL Clive!! Having gender...I have to remember that one.

I always had a beef with the phrase "make love." In John Denver's You Fill Up My Senses, he says "come let me love you, let me give my life to you. Let me drown in your laughter..." It's a simple beautiful verse. Then somewhere in the 70s or 80s, making love came to mean having sex...pretty crude.

Anyway, back to the topic on hand.

To me 'sex' and 'gender' are pretty much interchangeable. Except 'sex' is a more broad term with other meanings and 'gender' is slightly more formal.
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To me, "gender" seems to imply that the baby could be neutral... So I'd use "sex"!
Hi,

Yes,I have the same opinion about the phrase 'make love'.

Then there's 'make out'. Young people say this and I'm not sure if it includes the sex act. I don't think so. Perhaps someone who knows could comment.

Best wishes, Clive