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For the grammatical concept, see Grammatical gender. For other meanings see Gender (disambiguation).

Gender is the range of physical, biological, mental and behavioral characteristics pertaining to, and differentiating between, masculinity and femininity. Depending on the context, the term may refer to biological sex (i.e. the state of being male, female or intersex), sex-based social structures (including gender roles and other social roles), or gender identity.

Sexologist John Money introduced the terminological distinction between biological sex and gender as a role in 1955. Before his work, it was uncommon to use the word gender to refer to anything but grammatical categories. However, Money's meaning of the word did not become widespread until the 1970s, when feminist theory embraced the concept of a distinction between biological sex and the social construct of gender. Today, the distinction is strictly followed in some contexts, especially the social sciences[5][6] and documents written by the World Health Organization (WHO). In many other contexts, however, even in some areas of social sciences, the meaning of gender has undergone a usage shift to include sex or even to replace the latter word. Although this gradual change in the meaning of gender can be traced to the 1980s, a small acceleration of the process in the scientific literature was observed when, in 1993, the Food and Drug Administration started to use gender instead of sex. Gender is now commonly used even to refer to the physiology of non-human animals, without any implication of social gender roles