Beta This is new guidance. Complete our quick 5-question survey to help us improve it.

  1. Service manual
  2. Design
  3. 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

+Discuss asking about gender or sex on the design patterns wiki.

You may also find these guides useful:

Published by:
Design community
Last update:

Guidance first published