Information technology — Codes for the representation of human sexes

This document specifies a uniform representation of human sexes for the interchange of information. It is intended to: — reduce the time required to record and/or format the representation of sexes and transmit the corresponding data; — improve clarity and accuracy of interchange; — minimize the amount of human intervention required for communicating the representation of sexes; and — reduce costs. This document does not prescribe file sequences, storage media, programming languages, or other features of information processing to be used in its implementation. This document meets the requirements of most applications that need to code human sexes. It does not provide codes for sexes that can be required in specific medical and scientific applications or in applications that need to code sex information other than for human beings. It also does not provide codes for human gender identities that can be required in other applications. This document does not supplant national standards for coding sexes that are designed based upon codes derived from names of sexes in the various languages (for example “M” for “male” and “F” for “female” in the English language). It provides a numeric code that is independent of language-derived codes and as such is intended to provide a common basis for the international exchange of information containing human sex data elements.

Technologies de l'information — Codes de représentation des sexes humains

General Information

Status
Published
Publication Date
31-May-2022
Current Stage
6060 - International Standard published
Start Date
01-Jun-2022
Due Date
28-Feb-2022
Completion Date
01-Jun-2022
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INTERNATIONAL ISO/IEC
STANDARD 5218
Second edition
2022-06
Information technology — Codes for
the representation of human sexes
Technologies de l'information — Codes de représentation des sexes
humains
Reference number
ISO/IEC 5218:2022(E)
© ISO/IEC 2022
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ISO/IEC 5218:2022(E)
COPYRIGHT PROTECTED DOCUMENT
© ISO/IEC 2022

All rights reserved. Unless otherwise specified, or required in the context of its implementation, no part of this publication may

be reproduced or utilized otherwise in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, or posting on

the internet or an intranet, without prior written permission. Permission can be requested from either ISO at the address below

or ISO’s member body in the country of the requester.
ISO copyright office
CP 401 • Ch. de Blandonnet 8
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Phone: +41 22 749 01 11
Email: copyright@iso.org
Website: www.iso.org
Published in Switzerland
© ISO/IEC 2022 – All rights reserved
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ISO/IEC 5218:2022(E)
Contents Page

Foreword ........................................................................................................................................................................................................................................iv

1 Scope ................................................................................................................................................................................................................................. 1

2 Normative references ..................................................................................................................................................................................... 1

3 Terms and definitions .................................................................................................................................................................................... 1

4 Representation of human sexes ...........................................................................................................................................................2

5 Designation ................................................................................................................................................................................................................ 2

6 Qualification ............................................................................................................................................................................................................. 2

Annex A (informative) Codes for the representation of human sexes supporting (linguistic)

cultural adaptability ........................................................................................................................................................................................ 3

Bibliography .............................................................................................................................................................................................................................14

iii
© ISO/IEC 2022 – All rights reserved
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ISO/IEC 5218:2022(E)
Foreword

ISO (the International Organization for Standardization) and IEC (the International Electrotechnical

Commission) form the specialized system for worldwide standardization. National bodies that are

members of ISO or IEC participate in the development of International Standards through technical

committees established by the respective organization to deal with particular fields of technical

activity. ISO and IEC technical committees collaborate in fields of mutual interest. Other international

organizations, governmental and non-governmental, in liaison with ISO and IEC, also take part in the

work.

The procedures used to develop this document and those intended for its further maintenance

are described in the ISO/IEC Directives, Part 1. In particular, the different approval criteria

needed for the different types of document should be noted. This document was drafted in

accordance with the editorial rules of the ISO/IEC Directives, Part 2 (see www.iso.org/directives or

www.iec.ch/members_experts/refdocs).

Attention is drawn to the possibility that some of the elements of this document may be the subject

of patent rights. ISO and IEC shall not be held responsible for identifying any or all such patent

rights. Details of any patent rights identified during the development of the document will be in the

Introduction and/or on the ISO list of patent declarations received (see www.iso.org/patents) or the IEC

list of patent declarations received (see https://patents.iec.ch).

Any trade name used in this document is information given for the convenience of users and does not

constitute an endorsement.

For an explanation of the voluntary nature of standards, the meaning of ISO specific terms and

expressions related to conformity assessment, as well as information about ISO's adherence to

the World Trade Organization (WTO) principles in the Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT) see

www.iso.org/iso/foreword.html. In the IEC, see www.iec.ch/understanding-standards.

This document was prepared by Joint Technical Committee ISO/IEC JTC 1, Information technology,

Subcommittee SC 32, Data management and interchange.

This second edition cancels and replaces the first edition (ISO/IEC 5218:2004), of which it constitutes a

minor revision.
The changes are as follows.

— clarification that the scope of this standard does not provide codes for human gender identities;

— the mandatory Normative references and Terms and definitions clauses have been added and

subsequent clauses have been renumbered.

Any feedback or questions on this document should be directed to the user’s national standards

body. A complete listing of these bodies can be found at www.iso.org/members.html and

www.iec.ch/national-committees.
© ISO/IEC 2022 – All rights reserved
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INTERNATIONAL STANDARD ISO/IEC 5218:2022(E)
Information technology — Codes for the representation of
human sexes
1 Scope

This document specifies a uniform representation of human sexes for the interchange of information. It

is intended to:

— reduce the time required to record and/or format the representation of sexes and transmit the

corresponding data;
— improve clarity and accuracy of interchange;

— minimize the amount of human intervention required for communicating the representation of

sexes; and
— reduce costs.

This document does not prescribe file sequences, storage media, programming languages, or other

features of information processing to be used in its implementation.

This document meets the requirements of most applications that need to code human sexes. It does

not provide codes for sexes that can be required in specific medical and scientific applications or in

applications that need to code sex information other than for human beings. It also does not provide

codes for human gender identities that can be required in other applications.

This document does not supplant national standards for coding sexes that are designed based upon

codes derived from names of sexes in the various languages (for example “M” for “male” and “F” for

“female” in the English language). It provides a numeric code that is independent of language-derived

codes and as such is intended to provide a common basis for the international exchange of information

containing human sex data elements.
2 Normative references
There are no normative references in this document.
3 Terms and definitions
No terms and definitions are listed in this document.

ISO and IEC maintain terminology databases for use in standardization at the following addresses:

— ISO Online browsing platform: available at https:// www .iso .org/ obp
— IEC Electropedia: available at https:// www .electropedia .org/
© ISO/IEC 2022 – All rights reserved
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ISO/IEC 5218:2022(E)
4 Representation of human sexes
Human sex is represented by a one-character numeric code.
The following data elements and codes are used:
Data elements Code
Not known 0 (zero)
Male 1 (one)
Female 2 (two)
Not applicable 9 (nine)
5 Designation

The use of this document and associated code may be referred to by the designation “SEX”.

6 Qualification

No significance is to be placed upon the fact that “Male” is coded “1” and “Female” is coded “2”. This

document was developed based upon predominant practices of the countries involved and does not

convey any meaning of importance, ranking or any other basis that can imply discrimination.

© ISO/IEC 2022 – All rights reserved
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ISO/IEC 5218:2022(E)
Annex A
(informative)
Codes for the representation of human sexes supporting
(linguistic) cultural adaptability
A.1 General

When ISO 5218 first became an International Standard in 1977, ISO/IEC JTC1 did not exist. This second

edition is now identified as ISO/IEC 5218:2004 (E/F). In addition, in 1997, ISO/IEC JTC1 adopted three

strategic directions which its standards should support namely “portability”, “interoperability”, and

“cultural adaptability”. The rise of the use of the Internet underscores the validity of the need for these

three strategic directions to be supported for any International Standard which involves “human

interface equivalents”. To provide an illustrative example for addressing these three strategic directions

of ISO/IEC JTC1, Annex A has been added.
A.2 Purpose of Annex A
The purpose of Annex A is two-fold:

a) to provide a simple, easily understood example of an application and implementation of the three

strategic directions of ISO/IEC JTC1 and how they can interwork;

b) to provide an example of unique unambiguous referencing and identification of a semantic

component both among heterogeneous IT systems, i.e., at the IT Interface, on the one hand, and

on the other, that of the multiple possible human interface equivalents, be they of a linguistic,

symbolic , multimedia, etc., nature (including provision for human interface requirements for the

disabled, such as Braille and Bliss, etc.).
A.3 Structure of Annex A

The structure of the tables in Annex A is illustrative. Table ID “ISO/IEC05218:01” specifies the

international representations of human interface equivalent (linguistic) expression (or representations)

in official languages of the ISO and/or UN. It also makes provision for capturing human interface

(linguistic) equivalents as found in International Standards to assist the disabled.

Table ID “ISO/IEC05218:02” specifies the human equivalent linguistic representations of the four ID

codes for the representation of the human sexes in nation-state jurisdictions, i.e., “countries” and,

where applicable, the use of one or more official languages in each country.

The countries listed in this illustrative example are the JTC1/SC32 P-member countries which through

their participation in JTC1/SC32 plenary meetings and/or through e-mails to their national bodies

“signed off” on their human interface equivalent (linguistic) values as presented in Table 02.

1) For an example of symbolic representations of human sexes, see the ISO Bulletin, January 2000, page 3.

2) It is recognized that the terms in this document, i.e. “male” and “female”, are adjectives. As such, in many natural

languages they are subject to concords, namely their gender and plurals. This issue is outside the scope of this

Annex.

3) Some UN recognized nation-states do not have a declared “official language”. Where this is the case, there

usually is a de facto language. This and related issues are addressed in a more formal and systematic manner in

ISO/IEC 15944-5.
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ISO/IEC 5218:2022(E)

Natural languages such as Chinese, English, French, German, Portuguese, Spanish, etc., when used and

applied in differing jurisdictions at times use different equivalent linguistic written representations for

a particular semantic component based on the same natural language. For example, the human interface

equivalent linguistic expression for “potato” in Germany's use of the German language is “Kartoffel”,

while in Austria's use of the German language, it is “Erdappfel”, or in Spain's use of the Spanish language

it is “patata”, and in Mexico's use of the Spanish language it is “papa”.

In addition, one needs to be able to support the requirement that, at the national level, a country might

have more than one official language.

Table 02, Table ID “ISO/IEC05218:02”, uses the 3-digit country codes from ISO 3166-1 because the

2-alpha country codes and the 2-alpha language codes can be confused with one another. In many

instances, they do differ. The 3-alpha language codes are always represented in lower case, which

differentiates them from the 3-alpha currency codes (ISO 4217) and 3-alpha country codes (ISO 3166

1), which use upper case.

Taking Canada as an example, it has two (2) official languages and thus two (2) “official” human

interface equivalent linguistic expressions identified as “124:eng” and “124:fra”. Or taking Switzerland

as an example, it has three official languages and therefore three (3) human interface equivalent

linguistic expressions identified as “756:deu", “756:fra”, and “756:ita” , where:

— 124 and 756 are the 3-digit numeric codes assigned by the UN to Canada and Switzerland respectively

(these are also repeated in ISO 3166-1); and,

— “eng”, “fra”, “deu”, and “ita” are the 3-alpha codes for names of languages (based on ISO 639-2/T ).

A.4 Human interface equivalents (linguistic) for “Codes for the representation of

human sexes: ISO and/or UN languages” — Table 01

Table 01 consists of four written linguistic human interface equivalents (HIEs). They all represent the

use of writing systems. The first three HIE columns are utilized to represent official languages of both

the United Nations (UN) and the International Organization for Standardization (ISO).

Of the six official languages of the UN not all are used all the time in the bodies, commissions and

committees of the UN, i.e., as “working languages”. For example, in the UN Sub-Commission on the

Promotion and Protection of Human Rights, the working languages are English, French and Spanish

and these are used in the example below, i.e. in Table 01.

Other examples of human interface equivalents (linguistic) include sign language (a visual linguistic

communication form), Braille (a “written” three-dimensional linguistic communication form), Bliss,

etc. Here the first two, i.e. sign language and Braille, do not readily lend themselves as examples for

incorporation in this annex. Consequently, Bliss was chosen.

“Blissymbolics” is a communication system developed, originally by Charles K. Bliss, as an international

communication system for use by handicapped persons and persons having communication, language

and learning difficulties.

Blissymbolics is a language currently composed of over 2 000 graphic symbols which can be combined

and recombined to create new symbols in order to capture the semantics, i.e. meaning, of both abstract

and concrete levels of concepts to be communicated. As such Blissymbolics can be applied for use by

4) Note that “roh” (Rhaeto-Romance) is a “national” but not an “official language” of Switzerland and thus is not

included in Table ID “ISO/IEC05218:02”.

5) For an analysis of ISO standards for codes representing names of languages, see ISO/IEC JTC1/SC32 N0672,

“Need for a standard ‘default’ convention for referencing ISO 639-2 in Open-edi business transactions and

e-commerce, e-business, etc.”. Available at the JTC1/SC32 website: .

6) The United Nations uses six official languages: (1) English; (2) French; (3) Spanish; (4) Arabic; (5) Chinese;

and, (6) Russian. (The ISO 639-2/T language codes are: eng, fra, spa, ara, zho, and rus, respectively). The official

languages of the ISO are English, French and Russian.
© ISO/IEC 2022 – All rights reserved
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ISO/IEC 5218:2022(E)

both children and adults as well as for persons with a range of intellectual abilities. Both physical

devices (e.g. communication boards mounted on wheelchairs) and computer software exist to support

Blissymbolics.

Table 01 — Human interface equivalents (linguistic) for “Codes for the representation of human

sexes: ISO and/or UN languages”
IT interface Human interface equivalents (linguistic)
Table ID ID code ISO/UN English ISO/UN French ISO/UN Spanish Blissymbol
ISO/IEC 0 not known inconnu desconocido
05218:01
ISO/IEC 1 male masculin masculino
05218:01
ISO/IEC 2 female féminin femenino
05218:01
ISO/IEC 9 not applicable sans objet no aplica
05218:01
See https:// www .blissymbols .or for further information.
With respect to the Blissymbolics included in Table 01, one notes that,

— the dot before and after the “evaluation” indicator denotes an evaluation before and after the fact. Since “not known” is

after the fact and “not applicable” is before the fact, the dot has been positioned accordingly;

— the Blissymbolics for male and female incorporate those for “man” and “woman”; and

— “known” is derived from the verb to “know” which is based on the mind symbol and the shape of the base of “house”.

Here “knowledge” relies on a “store house of the mind” analogy.

The Blissymbols as such have not yet been registered as “characters” and combinations of ISO/IEC 10646 characters (noted

here via their “10646” registration numbers) were used as follows:

— “not” is 15733. For “known”, you need “knowledge”, 15162 and then the “description indicator” needs to be added. Its

number is 8998.

— “male” is 15415 and again, to make it an adjective, the “description indicator” needs to be added. Its number is 8998.

— “female” is
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