Forms (surveys/registration)

Page Summary

  • Consider whether your form/survey requires a user’s gender/sex/sexual orientation, and if it is not necessary, then don’t ask.
  • Learn the difference between these three terms, and do not mix them.

When preparing surveys and forms, it’s important to consider the diversity of your participants to collect accurate data.

The first thing to consider is why is it important to ask about gender/sex/sexual orientation in this survey? If it is not important or you don’t plan to use the data, consider omitting the question entirely. 

Before asking for a participant’s gender/sex/sexual identity, it’s important to know the difference between these three terms so you can be specific in the information you require. 

Sex refers to the biological expression of chromosomes and hormones in a person. Answers to a question regarding someone’s sex may include, male, female, or intersex.

Gender refers to an individual’s own sense of identity/self. Answers to a question regarding someone’s gender may include options like man, woman, transgender*, transgender* man, or transgender* woman.

*Consider that someone identifying as transgender may self identify as a man or woman or no gender at all. So it may be helpful to ask this question additionally:

  1. Have you ever identified, or do you identify, as transgender?

Sexual orientation refers to someone’s physical or sexual attraction toward other people. Answers to a question regarding someone’s sexual orientation may include options like gay, heterosexual, or bisexual.

Here are some ways to ensure that your forms and surveys are inclusive

Avoid This   Instead Try

Providing users with a gender-binary man or woman/he or she option.


Provide users multiple option for their gender e.g. man/woman/transgender…

Provide a space where the user can write-in their gender identity.

Allow users to select their pronouns from an inclusive list, or provide an option for them to be written in.

Providing users with too many gender options.


Unless is it necessary for statistical purposes, too many options can fatigue users. Instead provide a few, but comprehensive options.

Do not mistake gender with biological sex, or sexual orientation; or assume one implies another.


Learn the distinction between these three terms and collect this information separately from one another.

Gender-specific terms, when they are not needed.


Consult our glossary for a full list of gender-specific terms and their gender-inclusive alternatives.

If you need to collect information specific to a gender/sex then specifically ask for it. Otherwise avoid gendered-terms.