In a test, there is a question I need to translate. "People of the opposite gender need to be treated with respect just as much as I do". What is the correct word for it - "the opposite gender" or "the opposite sex"? Does it have the same meaning?

This psychological test is for children

  • 1
    You need to figure out what terminology will be understood by children of the target age. Many will not understand either term.
    – Hot Licks
    Mar 20, 2020 at 11:51

1 Answer 1


They have different meanings.

'Sex' refers to physical attributes that often determine what role people are assigned at birth.

'Gender' refers to the cultural and social roles or functions individuals either are assigned or identify with.

Both idioms are factually wrong: sex is not binary, as some individuals are born intersex, meaning they have a variety of sex characteristics that "do not fit the typical definitions for male or female bodies" 1, and gender is not binary, since individuals can identify with genders other than male or female.

Of course, this might still be unnecessary perplexing for children, depending on the age and sociocultural context of those children.

Since 'gender' more often than 'sex' defines the role an individual identifies with, I suggest using that word, and exchanging 'opposite' for 'different'.

Lastly, assuming the sentence is an agree/disagree question, and the intended meaning is 'I treat them with as much respect as people treat me', the 'just as much as I do' seems wrong here. Currently, it seems to suggest that it means 'as much as I do treat people with respect', in which case someone logically has to agree (unless it's a philosophical rather than an ethical inquiry).

"People of different genders need to be treated with as much respect as I am"

Again, the grammatical structure mostly should depend on the targeted audience.

  • I was taught that "gender" was a part of speech and did not necessarily refer to the sex of the person or object. I have learned to accept that it now means male/female. However "opposite sex" is a fixed phrase. "Opposite gender" is not or has not reached that status. So I would go with "opposite sex".
    – Packard
    Mar 20, 2020 at 14:13

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