Distinguishing between gender and sex in Japanese

Quick disclaimer! I’m not starting a political discussion on gender issues, I’m just clearing up some confusions about the meaning of a kanji.

I’ve recently come across the kanji 性 and noticed it was listed as both “gender” and “sex” in the meanings. But is it used to refer to both in Japanese? Or is there a different word for biological female?

I know that gender issues aren’t a huge thing in Japan so I’m interested in how to say these different words and if they would make sense talking to a native speaker.


Not sure but looking at the Dictionary this kanji is used for both. However, English words that use “sex” also display several other kanji

gen・der | dʒéndər | 〖原義は3 〗 名詞1 CU⦅かたく⦆ (社会的・文化的)性, ジェンダー, ⦅主に話/遠回しに⦆ (生物学的)性(sex) ▸ gender differences性差. 2 C〖集合的に〗男性, 女性▸ the male [female] gender 男[女]性(全体). 3 UC〘文法〙 (名詞・代名詞などの)性(の区分) ▸ the masculine [feminine, neuter, common] gender 男[女, 中, 通]性. ~́ awàreness 性別意識.~́ bènder ⦅くだけて・けなして⦆ 異性の格好[ふるまい]をする人.~́ bìas 性別による偏見.~́ discriminàtion 性差別.~́ dysphòria 〘医〙 性同一性障害.~́ gàp 男女格差.~́ idèntity 性自認, 性的自己同一性, ジェンダーアイデンティティ〘社会的・文化的に規定された自己の性別の自覚〙.~́ idèntity disòrder = gender dysphoria.~̀ reassígnment 性転換(手術).~́ ròle 性別役割〘性別によって社会的・文化的に期待される役割〙.

sex | seks | 〖原義は2 ; 1 の意は1929年英国の小説家・詩人D. H. Lawrenceの作品Pansiesから〗(形) sexual 名詞複~es | -ɪz | 1 U性交, セックス; 〖形容詞的に〗セックスの ▸ have sex with AAとセックスする ▸ safe sex 安全なセックス〘性病を予防するためにコンドームなどを使うセックス; unprotected sex〙 ▸ a sex partner セックスの相手. 2 UC性, 性別, (動植物の)雌雄(の別)(→ gender) ▸ regardless of age, sex, or occupation 年齢・性別・職業にかかわらず ▸ a single-sex school 〘英〙 男子[女子]校. 3 C〖集合的に〗男[女]の人, 雄[雌]の集団 ▸ the opposite sex異性(の人々) ▸ differences between the sexes 男女の違い ▸ the fair sex 〘やや古〙 女性. 動詞他動詞〖通例be ~ed〗 〈動物が〉性別を見分けられる (!「性交する」の意はない; → make love) . sèx A úp [úp A] A〈文書など〉を大げさにする, おもしろくする.~́ abùse = sexual abuse.~́àct 性交.~́ appèal 性的魅力.~́ chànge 〖通例単数形で〗性転換.~́ chèck (スポーツで, 女子選手に対する)セックスチェック, 性別判定テスト.~́ chròmosome 性染色体.~̀ discriminátion = sexual discrimination.~́ drìve 〖通例単数形で〗性的能力; 性衝動.~́ educàtion 性教育.~́ gòddess ⦅主に報道⦆ 性的に魅力のある映画女優.~́ hòrmone 性ホルモン.~́ìndustry 性産業.~́ kìtten ⦅やや古⦆ 性的魅力のある女性.~́ lìfe 性生活.~́ màniac セックス[色情]狂.~́òbject 性的対象〘単なるセックスの相手〙.~́ offènder 性犯罪者.~́òrgans 生殖器.~́ shòp ⦅英⦆ ポルノショップ.~́ sỳmbol 性的魅力のある有名人 (!特に歌手・俳優など) .~́ tèst = sex check.~́ tòurism 買春目的の外国旅行.~́ wòrker (労働者としての)売春婦.



Oh boy, I’m sure this thread won’t become controversial in any way.


I keep typing and deleting until I gave up.

I don’t have enough time and mental strength to do this. I feel like I was playing a minesweeper game.


I assume its the same way in english that most people see gender and sex as synonyms, but those who are more accepting of trans/non binary as labels or are a part of tend to use different terms and just see them as different concepts.


Gender = ジェンダー
Sex = セックス


I don’t think it directly answers your question, but have you seen this Tofugu article on LGBTQ in Japan? Lots of interesting vocabulary in it.


This is what I was thinking too! I’m trying to figure out what exactly these terms are and how I can use them though.


I have read this article a couple times! I like that it has many different terms, but it doesn’t completely answer my question.

I think what I’m looking for is if 男性 and 女性 are only used to refer to biologically male/female or if they’re also used for those who identify as those.


I think you are looking for 体の性 and 心の性.
Here are some examples from trans related questions on chiebukuro:

I also found a list with a bunch more expressions that weren’t covered in the tofugu article:


Thanks! This was pretty much what I was looking for. I know that Japan isn’t as advanced as the western world on gender issues but it’s good to see that some native Japanese care about it!


This is one of my favourite videos on the internet hahahahaha

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Sex isn’t real, you communists.

There, you can all relax now.


It’s up there for me too hehe

Shinzo abes greatest soldier

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