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American Sign Language:  "gender"

Also see: "The gender morpheme" (discussion)

Every once in a while someone asks me "How do you sign, 'gender?'"
A lot of signers just fingerspell it:

As far as a specific sign for "gender" -- that is a tricky question because even though I know of "a" sign for "gender" that doesn't mean it is "the" sign for gender or that you should use ANY specific sign for "gender."

Just because I use a particular sign myself and have seen a number of other people use it doesn't mean I should canonize* that sign in a dictionary.  Putting a sign in a dictionary such as this one tends to lend legitimacy to the sign and cause viewers to think that this is THE sign. That isn't the case with the sign "gender." Realistically there is no widely established sign for "gender" and many people would just "spell it" or use a combination of MALE and FEMALE.  But since I have seen this sign "out there" on occasion, I'll share it with you here in case you are an interpreter and need it for a biology class or something.


An interesting note regarding this sign, is that the "X" handshape is likely due to the concept of the "X" chromosome as in "X" and "Y" chromosomes determining the gender of a baby.  The locations on the head are perhaps remnant of the concepts "cap" (as in a hat - traditionally worn by boys) and a bonnet (tied at the chin and traditionally worn by girls).

Also, you might see some people do that sign with a "G" handshape.  That version would generally be considered "Signed English." 
Hey, I'm not judging you.  I'm just sharing some thoughts on a topic.

GENDER (version)  = MALE "or"-(bodyshift)-FEMALE

Another approach to indicating the concept of gender is to shift a bit to one side and sign MALE then shift a bit to the other side and sign FEMALE.

Some people might sign MALE OR-(fs) FEMALE -- however that indicates a binary approach whereas the shift from side to side could actually be thought of as a spectrum. 


Also see: SEX

Note: "canonize"
For those of you who read the word "canonize" (above) and are still wondering what it means, (if you haven't already looked it up), here is the definition:

* can·on·ize
tr.v. can·on·ized, can·on·iz·ing, can·on·iz·es
1. To declare (a deceased person) to be a saint and entitled to be fully honored as such.
2. To include in the biblical canon.
3. To include in a literary canon.
4. To approve as being within canon law.
5. To treat as sacred; glorify.


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