A method based on coherent Rayleigh scattering distinctly evaluating temperature and strain is proposed and experimentally demonstrated for distributed optical fiber sensing. Combining conventional phase-sensitive optical time-domain domain reflectometry (ϕOTDR) and ϕOTDR-based birefringence measurements, independent distributed temperature and strain profiles are obtained along a polarization-maintaining fiber. A theoretical analysis, supported by experimental data, indicates that the proposed system for temperature-strain discrimination is intrinsically better conditioned than an equivalent existing approach that combines classical Brillouin sensing with Brillouin dynamic gratings. This is due to the higher sensitivity of coherent Rayleigh scatting compared to Brillouin scattering, thus offering better performance and lower temperature-strain uncertainties in the discrimination. Compared to the Brillouin-based approach, the ϕOTDR-based system here proposed requires access to only one fiber-end, and a much simpler experimental layout. Experimental results validate the full discrimination of temperature and strain along a 100 m-long elliptical-core polarization-maintaining fiber with measurement uncertainties of ~40 mK and ~0.5 με, respectively. These values agree very well with the theoretically expected measurand resolutions.