Gender or sex
This pattern explains how to ask users about gender or sex.
When to use this pattern
You should only ask users about gender or sex if you genuinely cannot provide 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’.
How it works
If you have to ask about gender, you should:
- list the fields in alphabetical order
- 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’.
You may not always be able to use ‘you’. For example, if your service allows people to jointly apply for something, you might need to refer to both the user and the person they’re applying with. In these cases, use the person’s name, ‘they’ or ‘their’.
Never use titles to guess gender
You should not guess someone’s gender based on a title because:
- some titles are not 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
Research on this pattern
More research is needed on the best way to ask for gender. If you ask users for their gender as part of your service, get in touch to share your user research findings.
Help improve this page
To help make sure the Gender or sex page is useful, relevant and up to date, you can:
- share research or feedback about the Gender or sex pattern on GitHub
- propose a change to this page – read more about how to propose changes in GitHub
If you’ve got a question about the GOV.UK Design System you can contact the team: