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Sex and gender terminology: a glossary for gender-inclusive epidemiology
  1. Charlie Rioux1,2,3,
  2. Ash Paré4,
  3. Kira London-Nadeau5,6,
  4. Robert-Paul Juster7,8,9,
  5. Scott Weedon10,
  6. Sydney Levasseur-Puhach1,
  7. Makayla Freeman3,11,
  8. Leslie E Roos1,2,
  9. Lianne M Tomfohr-Madsen3,11,12,13,14
  1. 1Department of Psychology, University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
  2. 2Children’s Hospital Research Institute of Manitoba, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
  3. 3Department of Psychology, University of Calgary, Calgary, Alberta, Canada
  4. 4School of Social Work, McGill University, Montreal, Quebec, Canada
  5. 5Department of Psychology, Université de Montréal, Montreal, Quebec, Canada
  6. 6Sainte-Justine Hospital Pediatric Research Centre, Montreal, Quebec, Canada
  7. 7Department of Psychiatry and Addictology, Université de Montréal, Montreal, Quebec, Canada
  8. 8Montreal Mental Health University Institute Research Centre, Montreal, Quebec, Canada
  9. 9Centre on Sex*Gender, Allostasis, and Resilience, Montreal, Quebec, Canada
  10. 10Department of English, Texas Tech University, Lubbock, Texas, USA
  11. 11Department of Educational and Counselling Psychology and Special Education, The University of British Columbia, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
  12. 12Department of Pediatrics, University of Calgary, Calgary, Alberta, Canada
  13. 13Alberta Children's Hospital Research Institute, Calgary, Alberta, Canada
  14. 14Libin Cardiovascular Institute of Alberta, Calgary, Alberta, Canada
  1. Correspondence to Dr Charlie Rioux, Department of Psychology, University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, Canada; charlie.rioux{at}


There is increased interest in inclusion, diversity and representativeness in epidemiological and community health research. Despite this progress, misunderstanding and conflation of sex and gender have precluded both the accurate description of sex and gender as sample demographics and their inclusion in scientific enquiry aiming to distinguish health disparities due to biological systems, gendered experiences or their social and environmental interactions. The present glossary aims to define and improve understanding of current sex-related and gender-related terminology as an important step to gender-inclusive epidemiological research. Effectively, a proper understanding of sex, gender and their subtleties as well as acknowledgement and inclusion of diverse gender identities and modalities can make epidemiology not only more equitable, but also more scientifically accurate and representative. In turn, this can improve public health efforts aimed at promoting the well-being of all communities and reducing health inequities.


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  • Contributors CR (she/her) conceptualised the idea. CR and AP (they/them) wrote the initial draft. CR, AP, KL-N (she/her), R-PJ (he/him), SW (he/him), SL-P (she/her), MF (she/her), LER (she/her) and LMT-M (she/her) critically revised the paper/edited the draft and agreed on the final version for submission. CR is guarantor for the work. LER and LMT-M contributed equally to this paper.

  • Funding CR was supported by fellowships from Research Manitoba and the Children’s Hospital Foundation of Manitoba. KL-N was supported by a Vanier Scholarship from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR). R-PJ was supported by early career awards from the FRQS and holds a Sex and Gender Science Chair from CIHR. LMT-M was supported by the Canadian Child Health Clinician Scientist Programme.

  • Disclaimer The funding organisations had no role in the design and conduct of the study; collection, management, analysis, and interpretation of the data; preparation, review, or approval of the manuscript; and decision to submit the manuscript for publication.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Provenance and peer review Commissioned; externally peer reviewed.