Differences in terminology affects other current issues as well

by Jenny Jiao, ’16 and Maeve O’Brien, ’16

Migrant vs. Refugee

Refugee: Anyone who flees due to persecution (reasons of race, religion, nationality, etc.) or war. Under the 1951 Refugee Convention, refugees have guaranteed legal rights, including the right to liberty, security, freedom of movement, access to justice, among many others. The most important right they have may be that they cannot be forced back to the country of which they are escaping.

Migrant: Anyone moving from one country to another is considered a migrant unless he or she is specifically fleeing war or persecution. Migrants have no preferential status in the legal world. Countries may choose to accept or deport these individuals .

Take Note: The recent flood of Syrians fleeing to neighboring countries and Europe has been classified as one of the largest refugee crises in history. The majority of the refugees fled to Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey, Syria’s neighbors, and 10% have fled to Europe, according to BBC.
Sex vs. Gender

Sex: refers to a person’s biological status and is typically categorized as male, female, or intersex. Indicators of biological sex include sex chromosomes, gonads, internal reproductive organs, and external genitalia, according to the American Psychological Association.

Gender: refers to the attitudes, feelings, and behaviors that a given culture associates with a person’s biological sex. Behavior that aligns with cultural expectations is referred to as gender-normative; behaviors that are viewed as inconsistent with these expectations constitute gender non-conformity,  according to the American Psychological Association.

Take Note: When a person’s sex and gender are not the same, they are considered to be transgender, or have gender dysphoria, defined as “a condition where a person experiences discomfort or distress because there is a mismatch between their biological sex and gender identity,” by the NHS.