Protocol - Gender

Add to My Toolkit

The interviewer asks the respondent (or proxy) to indicate his or her gender.

Specific Instructions:

The question "Are you male or female?" needs to be asked because an interviewer may assume the respondent self-identifies as a female but she really associates with being male.

The PhenX Expert Review Panel strongly recommends the addition of an “Other (specify)” verbatim response option. This allows the respondent to self-identify using labels other than “male” or “female” if these categories are perceived to be inappropriate (e.g., transgender respondents or those who maintain more fluid gender identities). Depending on the context of the study, the investigator may want to include fixed response options (e.g., “male-to-female transgender,” “female-to-male transgender”). The question from the Los Angeles HIV Countywide Risk Assessment Survey is an alternative resource that could be considered. This question is available with the other Supplemental Information for Demographics.


Are you male or female?

[ ] 1 MALE

[ ] 2 FEMALE


[ ] 8 DON’T KNOW

Protocol Name from Source:

California Health Interview Survey (CHIS) Adult Questionnaire, 2005


Publicly available

Personnel and Training Required

The interviewer must be trained to conduct personal interviews with individuals from the general population. The interviewer must be trained and found to be competent (i.e., tested by an expert) at the completion of personal interviews.* The interviewer should be trained to prompt respondents further if a "don’t know" response is provided.

* There are multiple modes to administer this question (e.g., paper-and-pencil and computer-assisted interviews).

Equipment Needs

While the source protocol was developed to be administered by a computer-assisted telephone instrument, the PhenX Working Group acknowledges these questions can be administered in a noncomputerized format (i.e., paper-and-pencil instrument). Computer software is necessary to develop computer-assisted instruments. The interviewer will require a laptop computer or handheld computer to administer a computer-assisted questionnaire.

Requirement CategoryRequired
Major equipment No
Specialized training No
Specialized requirements for biospecimen collection No
Average time of greater than 15 minutes in an unaffected individual No
Mode of Administration

Interviewer-administered questionnaire

Life Stage:

Infant, Toddler, Child, Adolescent, Adult, Senior, Pregnancy


Any age.

Selection Rationale

The question is easily understood and straightforward.


Cantonese Chinese, English, Korean, Mandarin Chinese, Spanish, Vietnamese

Common Data Elements (CDE) Gender Code 2179640 CDE Browser
Logical Observation Identifiers Names and Codes (LOINC) Gender 46098-0 LOINC
Derived Variables


Process and Review

The Expert Review Panel #2 (ERP 2) reviewed the measures in the Demographics, Environmental Exposures, and Social Environments domains.

Guidance from ERP 2 includes:

• Revised descriptions of the measure

Back-compatible: no changes to Data Dictionary

Previous version in Toolkit archive (link)


University of California, Los Angeles. (2005). California Health Interview Survey (CHIS) Adult Questionnaire, 2005. Question number AA3. Los Angeles, CA: Author.

General References

Edwards, J. W., Fisher, D. G., & Reynolds, G. L. (2007). Male-to-female transgender and transsexual clients of HIV service programs in Los Angeles County, California. American Journal of Public Health, 97(6), 1030-1033.

Institute of Medicine. (2001). Exploring the biological contributions to human health: Does sex matter? Washington, DC: National Academy Press.

Public Population Project in Genomics (P3G) Data Shaper.

Protocol ID:


Export Variables
Variable NameVariable IDVariable DescriptionVersiondbGaP Mapping
PX010701_Gender PX010701010000 Are you male or female? Variable Mapping
Measure Name:


Release Date:

May 31, 2016


Question asking the respondent for his or her self-conception of being male or female.


Gender refers to a person’s self-representation as male or female.

Gender and sex are often misunderstood, and although they are related there are distinct differences between the two characteristics. Biological sex is a characteristic of living things, and a classification of male or female is given based on the individual’s reproductive organs and functions assigned by chromosomal complement. Gender is captured for sociological and epidemiological reasons.

Gender is one of the most basic variables captured in any biomedical or health-related research study. Differences in the prevalence and severity of a broad range of diseases, disorders, and conditions exist between the sexes.


Demographics, sex, male, female, transsexual, transgender, California Health Interview Survey, CHIS