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The four codes specified in ISO/IEC 5218 are:
The standard specifies that its use may be referred to by the designator "SEX".
The standard explicitly states that no significance is to be placed on the encoding of male as 1 and female as 2; the encoding merely reflects existing practice in the countries that initiated this standard. The standard also explains that it "meets the requirements of most applications that need to code human sexes. It does not provide codes for sexes that may be required in specific medical and scientific applications or in applications that need to code sex information other than for human beings."
ISO/IEC 5218 was created by ISO's Data Management and Interchange Technical Committee, proposed in November 1976, and updated in July 2004.