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Gender or sex
This guide explains how to ask users about gender or sex.
You should only ask about gender or sex if you can’t deliver your service without this information.
If you do need to ask, use ‘sex’ when you need biological data (for example, if you’re providing a medical service). In all other cases, use ‘gender’.
Meeting the Digital Service Standard
To pass point 13 (make the user experience consistent with GOV.UK) in your service assessments, you must use GOV.UK design patterns and guidance.
Read the guide on using, adapting and creating design patterns before you start designing or building anything.
Here’s an example of how to ask about gender:
If you have to ask about gender, you should:
- list the fields in alphabetical order: ‘Female’, ‘Male’, ‘Unspecified’
- do research to test that this works for your users
Avoid using pronouns
You should address the user as ‘you’ where possible and avoid using gendered pronouns like ‘he’ and ‘she’.
In some cases you may need to use pronouns, for example if your service allows people to jointly apply for something.
Don’t use titles to guess gender
You shouldn’t guess someone’s gender based on a title because:
- some titles aren’t gendered (for example Dr, Rev, Major)
- titles can be changed by deed poll to one that’s different from a person’s gender or sex
Discuss gender or sex
You may also find these guides useful:
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- Design community
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Guidance first published