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I’m frustrated and irritated.

'Gender' is NOT the same as a person's sex.

I've noticed something in the indexing of individuals that is driving me completely crazy, and I have to complain to someone. Suddenly the term 'sex' is being replaced by the erroneous term 'gender' and I find this more than a little distressing. I know, without a doubt, that the original documents did NOT refer to a person's 'gender', however, the transcriptions have begun to employ this curious term.

A person's sex is NOT their 'gender', and the two words are NOT interchangeable. The term 'gender' is a grammatical construct which indicates whether a person, place, or thing is referred to as he, she, or it. In other words, there are three genders. There are TWO sexes: male and female. To be a resource for facts and information, someone certainly needs to go back to school to understand the difference between the two. The idiotic 'trend' which has led to six or seven different sexual attributions should be avoided at all costs.

You are not helping matters using vague and inaccurate terminology. Thanking you for your time.

Eddie Gorham
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  • Lundgren (Search Engineer) June 16, 2019 01:05
    Family search uses gedcomx as it's data interchange API. This standard is used to share information between familysearch internally and externally.

    https://github.com/FamilySearch/gedco...

    https://github.com/FamilySearch/gedco...

    There is a bit of confusion in those documents with regard to the terms.

    There is also an outstanding change request to clarify the terms.

    https://github.com/FamilySearch/gedco...

    This may provide you with some insight into the direction things are headed.
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    Nitpick: there are three genders in some languages, such as English. Other languages, such as Spanish, only have two genders. And there are languages, such as Hungarian, that have no gendered pronouns. (You can make arguments for counting that as zero genders or one gender.)

    You're right, of course, that the correct term in genealogy is (almost always) sex, not gender, but the fact is that in modern usage, the two words are used interchangeably. Unfortunately for prescriptivists-at-heart (like me), words are like that: usages that started out as errors become correct if enough other people make the same mistake, over and over. It's the intent that matters, not the strict definition.
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  • Last October, I sent the following message to the General Register Office for England & Wales:

    "Why is there inconsistency in the use of the terms "sex" (on the actual certificates) and "gender" (on the search page)? Surely "sex" is the appropriate term in this context."

    I'm sure others probably noted / reported the same, so I'm not taking all the credit for the fact that "Sex" has now replaced "Gender" in the three compulsory options (in making a search for a birth or death):
    "-------------", "Female" or "Male".

    At the time I thought "sex" was used pretty well universally, but I have since found a number of websites / forms that are headed "Gender" in the relevant section.
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    People get nitpicky. If you google "gender definition" you get this response:

    1. either of the two sexes (male and female), especially when considered with reference to social and cultural differences rather than biological ones. The term is also used more broadly to denote a range of identities that do not correspond to established ideas of male and female.
    "a condition that affects people of both genders"
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    • It does not matter and hasn't for a very long time (several decades, at least). The terms are used synonymous and therefore, they are and will continue to be used that way.
    • It has not been several decades since I was in school and learned to use proper English. It will continue to matter to those who are interested in preserving the integrity of the English language, and Jason has given us the directive. Therefore any other discussion is superfluous.
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  • It is current policy to use the term "sex" in this context. Any variances from that are in error and need to be corrected. If you see a project that is using "gender", please report it to FamilySearch Support directly, not just here.

    Thanks!

    --Jason
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  • Jason

    Here is the same screenshot I have used in a post addressed to you (just minutes ago!) at https://getsatisfaction.com/familysea....

    In this case, I am posting it to show how "Gender" (not "Sex") does appear in indexed records.

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  • Things have certainly been indexed in various ways over the years, so you'll see records in different flavors as you do your research.

    My reference to "current policy" is for indexing projects being done now and going forward where new records are being created by volunteers.
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  • Examining the etymology in various dictionaries shows that the two terms arise from the same idea generally, but down thru history, usage has been that the Latin term gender was about having posterity (cognates: engender, generations) whereas the Latin term sex denoted biological differentiation - it had to do with the sexual organs.

    I expect the usage of masculine/feminine for nonsexual objects was originally whimsical, then it became required grammar. Lots and lots and lots of things in language are just historical and don't make much sense to us, but it was based on strength v. softness. (Day is masculine, night is feminine.) Contrarily, this grammatical usage came under the term gender.

    For many years in English, sex had to do with social roles more than biological functions, but language has been evolving ever since the Confusion of Tongues in Babel (we know from the Book of Ether that this was real) so a shift in usage should be no surprise. The general degradation of society with continual focus on sexual enticement has led to the term being largely abandoned for social roles. Which leaves us with no word for that. The thinking, I guess, or should it be called non-thinking, is that besides gender there simply is no other word possible.
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  • This reply was removed on 2019-06-22.
    see the change log