Lived Sex

Updated: SEPTEMBER 3, 2019

Lived sex is a term which describes the sex that individuals assume and present as while living their daily lives. The term is typically used for people whose biological sex or the sex on their birth certificate may be different to their lived sex, such as transgender and intersex people.

The term lived sex is sometimes used interchangeably with felt sex.

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In most cases, people want to be accepted and viewed as their lived sex. It is important for transgender and intersex people to know they can use the bathrooms associated for their lived sex, for example. Acceptance of lived sex also makes people feel like part of their community and minimizes feelings of loneliness and isolation. When people are accepted as their lived sex, they can be included as they are, without any need for change. This gives people choice to participate in their community without undergoing hormone therapy or gender confirmation surgery, if they choose to do so. This is especially important for intersex athletes, who may not wish to alter their bodies but still want to compete.

However, while social and professional acceptance of lived sex is importance, transgender and intersex advocates say that simply accepting their lived sex is not acceptable under a legal standpoint. As the censuses in many countries only count men or women, transgender and intersex people are essentially invisible. While resources are provided for their lived sexes, they are not provided for their actual sex. The medical needs of a male-to-female transgender person, for example, are very different to the medical needs of a cisgender woman, for example, so they should not be treated the same.


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