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女&男 both seem age specific since there is a の子 ver for both. So is it safe to say 女性/男性 are what I would say if I was referring to the entire sex regardless of age? Is that would would be put in officials bills concerning diff sexes?

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  • Are you referring to strictly humans or will you also allow animals? For animals, the terms for male and female become 雄(おす)and 雌(めす), respectively, so please clarify your question.
    – binom
    Feb 14, 2018 at 1:09
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    What kind of 'officials bills' (sic) are you referring to? Most standard questionnaires ask 性別:男/女. Official government documents use 男性/女性.
    – BJCUAI
    Feb 14, 2018 at 2:20
  • Humans of course. Never seen them referred by mesu/osu.
    – shoryuu
    Feb 14, 2018 at 4:24

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The concept, 'sex,' in Japanese would be 性別(せいべつ). The Japanese Wikipedia article on the topic says:

性別(せいべつ、sex)とは、男性と女性の別。オスとメスの別。

So, depending on what you are referring to, it could be 男性 and 女性 or オス and メス respectively. The article has a section that specifically addresses human sex. I'll quote it here:

人間の場合はそれぞれを「男性」「女性」あるいは「おとこ」「おんな」や「男子」「女子」などと呼ぶ。

From this sentence, it would appear that 男性・女性, as well as おとこ・おんな and 男子・女子 are all acceptable for differentiating sex.

However, since you're asking what pair of words would be used on official forms and the like, and for that it would be 男性・女性. For example, see this online Visa correction form.

You'll notice that item #4 性別 gives the options 男性 and 女性. I've also seen them abbreviated to just 男 and 女 to save space on the page.

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