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December 20, 2000

Gender vs Sex—Reply

Author Affiliations

Stephen J.LurieMD, PhD, Senior EditorIndividualAuthorPhil B.FontanarosaMD, Executive Deputy EditorIndividualAuthor

JAMA. 2000;284(23):2997-2998. doi:10.1001/jama.284.23.2993

In Reply: The purpose of our Commentary was to inform readers that the IOC has abolished laboratory-based gender verification tests, a change in a policy initiated in 1968. Dr Wilson's concerns are semantic, specifically how to designate individuals with disorders of sex differentiation. We are certainly aware of the argument for biological precision using "sex" and thus would acknowledge Wilson's contention that consistency and scientific accuracy should dictate its use. However, convention among health care professionals has long been that gender is preferable in describing intersex individuals, given the charged nature of the word sex and given that gender connotes self-identification of a person's rearing. Of course, it is sometimes necessary to describe both gender and sex when referring to specific individuals. In addition, the IOC has always used the phrase "gender verification" and to have used a different term in our Commentary would have been confusing.

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