Geek Feminism Wiki

In March 2010, Angie Byron proposed that the profile page have the gender options expanded to "Male, female, transgender, other" to be more inclusive of people who do not conform to a gender binary. (See also: Transgender, LGBT issues)

The original proposal: Expand options in the "Gender" profile field

Discussion ensued, with various arguments being put forward in favour or against the plan. Some people preferred other options, some preferred that the question not be asked at all, some maintained that a male/female binary should be sufficient, and some claimed that if demographic information was desired, then race and income should also be on the profile page.

Additional proposals quickly followed:

The original proposal was implemented fairly quickly, which may have been fortunte because debate stalemated further action, and may have stalemated all action.


The changed dropdown box

Comment threads[]

Alternative suggestions[]

A number of alternative suggestions were offered in the comment threads, including:

  • removing the gender question altogether
  • variations in phrasing ("transgender" vs "other" vs "it's complicated")
  • allowing multiple selections (eg. "transgender" AND "female")
  • allowing freeform text
  • asking the user to specify preferred pronouns instead of gender identity

Problematic responses[]

Unfortunately, the comment threads demonstrated a considerable level of cis-privilege and/or transphobia, as well as sexism. Some problematic comments included:

  • "If this info is truly valuable for demographics, shouldn't we also be asked to describe our education, our race, our political preferences, our sexual orientation, our hair color (both carpet and drapes), and our income level?" [1]
  • "To keep it a binary option, just ask if the user has a penis. Isn't that the one thing we really all care about? Do you have one? Do you need one? Do you want to get rid of the one you have?" [2]
  • "Or we use "Mr/Mrs" simply. two radios. even transgender or others have a Mr or Mrs." [3] (See: Marital status)
  • "the binary penis question is the same question we use when we enter a commonly gendered public restroom. A penis-less ftm cannot easily use a urinal, right? That's why I tried to simplify the question, just as we simplify the icon on the door of a restroom." [4]
  • "I think your figures are off a bit. Women have a major presence in technology. I see much more women on the covers of tech gadget magazines. ...90% of them. :)" [5]
  • "There is probably a better way to focus our energy, like for example, release a new major version of Drupal core?" [6]
  • "There is such a thing as being overly-sensitive and it becoming counter-productive. This thread just reached that point. Being so obsessed with gender/sex only makes people think about it more, not less, in a context where it should not be at all relevant." [7]
  • "Let's move into the new century by being blind to race, religion, political affiliation and gender. That is the progressive and inclusive way to handle this." [8]