Some background reading for those who read this title and went "Huh?!": http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gender_identity

A few people have approached me and pointed out that there are people who identify as neither male nor female, and our current binary selection on the Drupal.org Gender profile field excludes them. Since it is quite literally impossible to create a drop-down that lists every possible value of gender identity, we kicked this around in IRC and came up with the following proposal:

- Male
- Female
- Transgender
- Other

Another idea that was kicked around was changing this field to free-tagging, but that strikes me as a data integrity nightmare given what the issue tag vocabulary looks like. :P So this solution feels like a pretty happy medium.

CiviCRM is one application that ships with Male / Female / Transgender, so there is precedent for this out there. And "Other" is a broad category that can encompass everything else. And "None of your damn business" folks can still leave the field blank.

I'd like to go ahead and make this change, but wanted to put it up for discussion first.

Comments

catch’s picture

Seems like a good change. In irc people mentioned allowing people to be more specific, if we wanted that we could add an optional textfield which only appears if you select 'Other', that could be implemented any time after the original change though.

langworthy’s picture

This seems to lead towards a more welcoming and inclusive community. Sounds good.

hefox’s picture

+1

While the present situation is tolerable, as it's not required (unlike facebook, that harasses it's users into giving an answer), being able to identifying as *something* is important.

I'd also suggest that having it as a multiselect would be useful, though it may confuse those that are unaware of the issues. (Some people identify as both male and female, or prefer "Male, Transgendered"/"Female, Transgendered").

ksenzee’s picture

http://www.sarahdopp.com/blog/2010/designing-a-better-drop-down-menu-for... suggests "Male," "Female," and "It's Complicated." :) But no need to bikeshed - webchick's proposed list seems fine.

killes@www.drop.org’s picture

Can't we just remove the field altogether? it is rather irrelevant in the context of drupal.org.

Anonymous’s picture

The field is relevant when you need to refer to the user, and choose a personal pronoun; it is possible to refer to the user using the username, thought.

webchick’s picture

I personally like the field, since it allows us to track some community demographic stats among those who opt-in to using it. I also use it for correct pronoun usage, as kiam does. There are far too many first names that are either ambiguously or non-obviously male/female.

Dave Reid’s picture

Status: Active » Fixed

Done! :)

Gerhard Killesreiter’s picture

Status: Fixed » Needs work

I think we did not yet have reached a consensus here.

In general I think that data colection should be minimized, especially when it does not offer any discernible benefits.

Chosing the correct pronoun does IMO not count as such.

Dave Reid’s picture

Hmm, sorry it had sounded to me like a consensus had been reached already. :/

webchick’s picture

Agreed; in general I think it's a good idea to leave these kinds of polciy discussions open for at least 3-4 days, to give everyone ample time to respond.

@Gerhard: I don't see a particular reason to throw out data that we've gathered over the past 9-10 years. The field is also optional (which I strongly believe it should remain), effectively allowing for a "Buzz off and leave me alone" option.

(long and rambly; sorry, I am very distracted today, but hopefully something in here makes sense.)

Correct pronoun usage doesn't sound like a huge benefit, I realize, but it's important from a community interaction perspective. It helps to visualize the person on the other end of the nickname, same as things like their interests, industries worked for, and other properties that we gather data about. I guess we could start a discussion in a separate issue about removing all optional fields from the profile, but IMO this stuff is really important for putting some context behind a nickname, as well as standing up and being an counted as individual among the hundreds of thousands of other blue nicknames.

This data is also used as one means of tracking diversity initiatives within the community, which I recognize may not be important to everyone, but is a really important boasting point for Drupal, whose female participation rate is about 10x the open source average. For some, selecting "Female" in the gender field is a badge of pride, a way to be "out and proud" about contributing to open source, and bucking the trend. This issue is really about allowing others to feel this same sense of pride.

I don't think the response to this should be "well let's just de-gender everyone" because then the assumption will be that we're all male, which strikes directly against increasing our community's diversity.

mfb’s picture

The gender field should not disappear in response to making the options more inclusive. It should be useful for collecting demographic/diversity stats on the community over time, and for pronoun usage. Would be ideal to also allow folks to self-identify as per #1

ksenzee’s picture

I see Gerhard's point about minimizing data collection, but I disagree with her about pronouns being important. ;) I think they're pretty important.

arianek’s picture

@webchick am i crazy or weren't we talking about this many months back? about adding some kind of other options to the field? i can't for the life of me track down another issue (or thread in drupalchix?) though i thought maybe there was one...

ZoeN’s picture

+1 for adding inclusive gender options. Big time. In fact +lots!

laura s’s picture

One thing to consider is that having "other" and fill-in-the-blank covers all kinds of diversity. But if we also add one or more other options to the dropdown (or radio buttons or multiselect checkboxes even), then we are designating those as somehow more important or relevant. Which diversity gets into the dropdown and which is relegated to "other"?

This change affects everyone's profile and is replacing one structure with a new (arbitrary?) structure. Therefore perhaps it's best if this issue remains open for at least 2 weeks, like other major issues, before imposing any new structure.

Damien Tournoud’s picture

The three-entry selector ("Male," "Female," and "It's Complicated.") is pretty much standard these days. It sounds like a fair compromise to me.

hefox’s picture

Arianek, the discussion you were may have been thinking about is this one: http://groups.drupal.org/node/26944#comment-93744

Damien Tournoud’s picture

To be honest, I see the three other ideas studied here as losing propositions:

  • Adding more options: who would decide which options to add? Except Transgender, which is basically another way of saying "Other"... I don't see who would maintain a taxonomy of genders?
  • Making it a multi-selection and Making it a free-tagging are no go either, because (1) it would be confusing as hell, (2) it will lose any use both for "data collection" and for "pronominal identification". In that case, I would prefer simply dropping the field.
arshadcn’s picture

Or we use "Mr/Mrs" simply. two radios. even transgender or others have a Mr or Mrs.

amye’s picture

"Mrs" has some connotations that we don't necessarily need to get into, but if you're going to do that, 'Mr/Mrs/Ms'. See also: New York Times Manual of Style and Usage.

I'm fine with an option of male/female/transgendered.

spamjim’s picture

Oy. We're talking about sex with software.

I just removed my gender from my profile in response to this silliness. It is 2010.

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?

This information really cannot be that problematic that we have to include so many options. 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?

How difficult is it to communicate in a gender-neutral manner? How many people actually access the user's profile to determine if they should type 'he' or 'she' in a response? And if we do have a transgender option, doesn't that make it more difficult to determine whether we should type 'he' or 'she' in a response?

webchick’s picture

spamjim: Please read the referenced article in the OP. No, we are not asking "Do you have a penis?" Gender identity issues are far more complex than that, which is the entire point of having this conversation. If you don't personally care about this issue, that's fine, but belittling the concerns of those who do is degrading the quality of the discussion here.

I understand Laura's point in #16, but I don't see any reasonable technical way to address it (see Damien's #19), apart from dropping the field entirely, which I outlined in #11 that I really don't want to do. If that's the group consensus, then so be it, but I think it would be a step backwards, when the point of this issue is to be more inclusive.

Male / Female / It's complicated. On the surface that seems a reasonable alternate approach, but I don't identify as genderqueer and wouldn't want to speak on behalf of those who do.

hefox’s picture

On other, while transgendered should cover, it is still a relatively new word/concept (not to say transgenderism is a new, but identifying it as the word transgendered is)

The current definitions of transgender include all transsexual people, although this has been criticized.

-http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Transgender#Evolution_of_the_term_transgender

Based on that, it felt right to have an other (though perhaps it should be it's complicated); and that's not the same as leaving it blank; It's import to some to be able to identify as something.

As far making it multi select, I don't see how that would interferes with data collection; Someone that would choice Transgender and Male are indicating that they are want to be counted as transgendered and male, which may, hm, make the data more accurate?

As for pronouns, it does help; it indicates either to avoid using them or use a neutral (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gender-neutral_pronoun), or ask what they prefer (which is fairly standard and acceptable). And if it was multi select, "Transgender, male" would hint more at what pronoun to use then just "Transgender," though again, best to ask.

ksenzee’s picture

I strongly oppose removing the field altogether. It is so tiring to be addressed as a man just because my nick is ambiguous. It happens to me all the time on IRC, where there's no easy way to find out what my gender is. On d.o, there is an easy way to check, and it happens to me a lot less often.

webchick’s picture

Interesting post on this issue that ksenzee mentioned on IRC:
http://www.sarahdopp.com/blog/2010/designing-a-better-drop-down-menu-for...

mfb’s picture

Here's another URL, via google search: http://www.hrc.org/issues/9596.htm

spamjim’s picture

Webchick: There's no belittling of concerns. I'm looking at the greater picture. A community can be adversely affected by this extraneous gender profile info.

Supposing that the option of "it's complicated" is added, Drupal.org communicates that if you are neither male nor female, you must be something 'complicated'. Some of us are or know transgender folk that do not feel complicated and would not like to be trivialized in such a way.

Seriously, why aren't you asking if someone has a penis? (my original question was part humor and part to illustrate the futility of defining gender here.) Using a binary selection of (penis|no penis) can address male, female, transgender, and automated bot in a single, simple option.

I have a dream that our children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the presence of a penis, but by the content of their character.

I too am interested in the digital divide of gender, race and economic situation. So if you really want to gather statistical data, you need to also add race and income with this profile modification.

Do DrupalCons provide access to transgender restroom facilities?

Anonymous’s picture

Seriously, why aren't you asking if someone has a penis?

The fact somebody prefers to be addressed with she is not related with the fact that person has a penis, or not. Asking that could be offensive, and the full thread is not about that, but rather a different topic.

hefox’s picture

Seriously, why aren't you asking if someone has a penis? (my original question was part humor and part to illustrate the futility of defining gender here.) Using a binary selection of (penis|no penis) can address male, female, transgender, and automated bot in a single, simple option.

Many ftm (female to male trasngendered) have not had bottom surgery, nor desire to, so would have to answer "no penis"... O.O

spamjim’s picture

kiam: So what you are really asking for is new field to define a personal pronoun preference that the user would like to describe himself/herself/itself when addressed. That is not found in the gender field. Knowing a non-absolute gender option does not help any of us to know whether we should use 'he' or 'she' in our discussions. We would still be at a loss to know whether we should address a transgender participant as a he/she/it.

Some people may find it offensive that they are asked such probing questions about their sexual identity.

Many ftm (female to male trasngendered) have not had bottom surgery, nor desire to, so would have to answer "no penis"... O.O

hefox: 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.

Most languages are male/female gendered so I find it difficult to understand how knowing an ambiguous gender is going to be beneficial to addressing others with gendered pronouns.

EDIT: an interesting observation... No one in this thread has used a gendered pronoun to address another. So why is this gender profile field really an issue? It seems that we are successfully communicating without any gender references to each other. Are any of us really that immature to be bothered if we are accidentally described incorrectly with a gendered pronoun? If this is the case, it seems that people need reprogramming; not Drupal. I don't care about race, religion or gender. We're all Drupal.

hefox’s picture

hefox: 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.

There is ways around that; some packers are made with STP (stand to pee) mechanisms. Also, can use the sit down toilets, or avoid using public toilets.

Some do use the restroom of biological sex; I do, but I hate it, just like I'd hate identifying as not having a penis.

By the way,

The word "it", however, has an extremely impersonal connotation in common usage and is never used in English to refer to an unspecified human being or person of unknown gender.

- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gender-neutral_pronoun#It

ksenzee’s picture

No one in this thread has used a gendered pronoun to address another.

I did, as it happens, and incorrectly. Interesting that you didn't notice. If I'd called you a woman, I'm guessing you'd have noticed.

So why is this gender profile field really an issue?

Please see #11.

webchick’s picture

A community can be adversely affected by this extraneous gender profile info.

Uh. really? Citation needed.

The only two effects I can think of are transgendered members feeling more included, and our community's general awareness of gender identity increases (though only for new members and those who ever bother to update their profiles again). Neither of which are adverse.

I recognize that we could have adverse effects if we try and enumerate every possible gender description out there and people don't see theirs on the list (which is bound to happen given we're talking about a spectrum here), which is why we're advocating keeping the list small, but its options open enough to still be inclusive.

Supposing that the option of "it's complicated" is added, Drupal.org communicates that if you are neither male nor female, you must be something 'complicated'. Some of us are or know transgender folk that do not feel complicated and would not like to be trivialized in such a way.

Right, that was my concern as well, which is why I said I didn't want to speak on behalf of transgendered folks. Though in a discussion earlier in IRC, "It's complicated" seems generally a step up from "Other," which seems even worse in that regard.

Using a binary selection of (penis|no penis) can address male, female, transgender, and automated bot in a single, simple option.

No. It can't. Again. Please re-read the referenced article in the original post. If you "are or know transgender folk" I am totally confused as to why you think this question simply comes down to the presence/absense of a biological part, as that's incredibly offensive.

I too am interested in the digital divide of gender, race and economic situation. So if you really want to gather statistical data, you need to also add race and income with this profile modification.

Feel free to start separate issues for race and income fields. If you come up with reasoned arguments, you may be able to build consensus for such a change. This issue, however, is strictly about the gender field.

Do DrupalCons provide access to transgender restroom facilities?

Not to date, unfortunately. In part this is an awareness issue, in part because we have no idea if we even have transgender members in our community (something this issue would help address), and in part because we are basically victim to whatever the facilities are at whatever venue the conference is held at, which changes each time. I'm not sure how other conferences handle this, but if anyone happens to know this hand has ideas for how we could handle this at Drupalcon SF, feel free to contact the organizers.

About #31, you seem unnecessarily stuck on this pronoun thing. Please see #11 for other reasons to keep the field.

webchick’s picture

Talked this over with some folks from the Geek Feminism community, and here were some additional resources:

http://www.opendoors.net.au/wp-content/uploads/2009/10/creating-inclusiv... (PDF, sorry) is a pretty comprehensive reference guide for building forms.

There's also the Dreamwidth project, which boasts an insanely diverse community. They use this for their gender field:

Other

I wonder if we did something like this:

Gender:
- Male
- Female
- Other
Gender (please specify):
[ text field             ]

And ksenzee wrote two lines of JS in drupalorg module to hide the textfield unless Other was selected.

spamjim’s picture

ksensee: aha. I did not fully read #13 but it seems like you forced the pronoun in there just to make your point. Either way, I sit corrected.

webchick: the citation was already given in this thread. http://groups.drupal.org/node/26944#comment-93744

Look at how a woman was challenged simply to admit being female because of a perception (true or not) of ridicule/harassment. I appreciate that she felt an empowerment to finally come out as a woman but she originally felt troubled because she was asked to define her gender. Why don't we eliminate the problem she perceived by ignoring gender entirely on d.o?

While I have not witnessed the harassment that this woman feared she might receive on d.o, we are all aware of how a minority can be targeted for attack. This is my concern for those not falling under the category of male or female. We're just introducing another way that people may be profiled in a negative way. Maybe a poster gets insults. Maybe a poster is ignored without realizing it was because of their profile. If any of us are part of a minority, we are well aware of this.

I'm not trying to discount or ignore anyone's sexual identity. I'm noting, as others have, how meaningless it is to separate or define ourselves by gender on d.o. Such distinctions do not seem like progressive thinking. I don't care that you are female. I care (and appreciate) that you have contributed much more than this man to Drupal. Gender is not something that makes any of us better or worse at using or developing Drupal.

The reason why I suggested a question of (penis|no penis) was to illustrate the offensiveness/silliness of classification of any sexual distinction on this site. You already recognize that you're going to offend someone if you don't use the right word to classify them - so why bother at all? We'll never find the right words to separate ourselves for this profile field without insulting or offending someone. I always thought Drupal.org was to bring us together.

EDIT: Correct me if I am wrong but the two main reasons I see for acknowledging gender is for pronoun usage and to get statistical data.

1) We already realize that we're not helped on pronoun usage by offering a 'transgender' or 'other' option.

2) Those who find the gender matter intrusive and/or pointless will choose NULL or a bogus response. How does that help the site maintainers to understand the demographics? Should we assume that everyone that provided no answer is really female, like the poster at http://groups.drupal.org/node/26944#comment-93744 ?

webchick’s picture

To clarify, this would allow:

1. Folks to identify as neither male nor female ("Other" - "I defy classification" in the text field).
2. Folks to identify as both make and female ("Other" - "Both" in the text field).
3. Folks to identify as something else entirely ("Other" - "female, androgynous, genderqueer" in the text field).
4. Folks to use the gender field as a commentary about gender ("Other" - "None of your beezwax").

And we could still keep our current list of Female members, as well as have a new list of folks who for whatever reason didn't want to be identified as male or female, to help determine the need for things such as gender-neutral bathroom facilities at Drupalcons. And if we use a "free tagging" text field, like Interests or Companies are, and then we could pull up a list of everyone whose gender is classified as "genderqueer", too, if we want to do that for some reason.

And of course, people could also continue to just not fill it in at all.

How's that sound?

kiamlaluno’s picture

The reason why I suggested a question of (penis|no penis) was to illustrate the offensiveness/silliness of classification of any sexual distinction on this site.

The fact some users prefer that others use the correct pronoun when referring to them is not sexual at all; the fact you use he when referring to me doesn't implicate any sexual activity.

What proposed from webchick, with the possibility to select Rather not say doesn't implicate any discrimination, as that option can be chosen from everybody (and there is no way to know the sex of the users who decide to not report their gender).

webchick’s picture

Cross-posted.

Thanks, spamjim, I understand better where you're coming from now.

Where I'm coming from is I am trying to combat this:

Women in Open Source

Despite open source theoretically being a wonderful egalitarian society where things like race, gender, sexual orientation, etc. don't matter, the fact that on average only 1.5% of open source contributors are women is absolutely stunningly horrible.

One of the best ways to combat this trend is for women who are open source contributors to self-identify as women. I do this with the handle "webchick," others have obviously sounding female names like "Jacine" or "jensimmons," but for someone like "ksenzee" or "add1sun" this field helps them to stand up and be counted.

I'm not saying my desire to increase the participation of women in Drupal is worth sacrificing someone's feelings of personal safety, or that it should trump someone else feeling uncomfortable being confronted with the question. But is there some kind of middle ground we can reach that satisfies both desires?

spamjim’s picture

kiamlaluno: I think you are confusing sexual identity (I am a man; I am a woman; I am something else) with sexual activity or orientation (I like women; I like men; I like something else).

If that non-answer gender option is what webchick proposes then it negates the validity of any statistical data one might derive from the answers. Webchick seemed interested in that as an element of this topic. If you have 60% that report being male, 10% that report being female, what dare you infer from the 30% that failed to answer?

Webchick: 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. :)

Seriously though, and with no insult intended, affirmative action or promotion of any minority in this manner is usually futile. You'd need a block on the homepage to smack people in the face to alert them to the gender imbalance. And would the imbalance of genders tell a minority that they need to better represent themselves or that there's no place for them? Does being a certain gender make Drupal easier?

This gender profile field is hidden from most people's view unless they take the time to dig into a user profile. If a woman (or any other minority) wants to represent themselves as a force in IT, they simply need to do what you are already doing --- by contributing mad skills to d.o. That's the best marketing for women (or men, or other) in IT. Your presence is well seen as a profile picture in discussions, at DrupalCons, and in voice in podcasts. There's no mistaking who you are, even if we ignore your username.

webchick’s picture

We are wildly spinning off into a whole tangent that has nothing to do with this issue. So real quick:

- I'm not after statistical information, per se, but general trends over time. Assuming the number of people who play around with their gender on purpose remains a relatively constant percentage, the field is fairly decent for these purposes.

- Please see http://www.flosspols.org/ for corroboration of those numbers. While it's true the number of women in technology as a whole hovers more around 30%, open source, for a number of reasons, is "special." Hence my desire to let women who wish to self-identify as such, to let others know we're out there.

- Obviously people who work their asses off 24 hours/day on Drupal will get recognized for their efforts regardless of their demographic traits, but you ought to be able to "stand up and be counted" if you want to without making that kind of commitment.

Now. Back on topic, any specific feelings/objections to #35?

hefox’s picture

Now. Back on topic, any specific feelings/objections to #35?

While I was one of the ones suggesting other, is there any ..other.. term that would work better? Other is "Other than those two", which is sorta like "excludes that"; compare to transgender, which can include them (ie transgendered male, etc.).

But other than that, I'm all for the text area.

Perhaps just add the text field, and leave the two choices as is, but I'd be nice to have something in the main select boxes, or style it in such a way that they look part of same widget, if that is possible.

Damien Tournoud’s picture

#35 seems slightly overkill to me. Simply adding a "It's complicated" or an "Other" entry seems to cover the original goals in that issue.

There is probably a better way to focus our energy, like for example, release a new major version of Drupal core?

kobnim’s picture

Wow. I am beyond delighted that this discussion is taking place.

My top choice is:

female
male
it's complicated

because it is short, sweet and inclusive.

However, I would allow people to select multiple items.

For example, if someone selects "female" and "it's complicated", that's shorthand for

"I am differently-gendered (transgender, gender-queer or intersex) and I prefer to be addressed with female pronouns."

I would also be fine with the suggestion in #35. It's a close second.

Crell’s picture

There is probably a better way to focus our energy, like for example, release a new major version of Drupal core?

That is the most constructive thing said in this entire thread so far.

I truly do not care what sex you are, what gender you are, what sex you wish you were, what gender you wish you were, or whatever else. In the context of d.o, I care about how good your coding, documenting, or usability skillz are. That's it. There are contexts in which I do care, and they do not involve Drupal.

Realistically, we're speaking about a very small fraction of the population to begin with; we may see it more because it's a tiny fraction that tends to skew left, and open source folks often skew left as well. In my left-leaning non-Drupal activities (which do in fact exist) I know a disproportionately large number of "it's complicated" people, and I still think this entire thread is a tempest in a teapot.

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.

spamjim’s picture

kobnim: You are making a generalization that might offend some that don't feel that they fit that shorthand classification. A multiple select of one of the main genders and 'complicated' could also be shorthand for some who has gone through a common operation like vasectomy, hysterectomy or a mastectomy - - as those can sometimes cause a person to perceive themselves as if they are not 100% a specific gender. Why would such matter to us on d.o?

As we keep returning to the issue of how to address gender pronouns, I am confused why anyone would want to muddy the situation with more than male/female? In addition to changing a Drupal feature, you'd also need to change the structure/content of several languages.

Now. Back on topic, any specific feelings/objections to #35?

Webchick: Are you implying that a handful of us have somehow gotten off-topic to discuss varied classifications of sexual identity? How do you think offering an optional variable text field to thousands of users is going to be more manageable?

I've come to infer that this topic is more about announcing or heralding sexual identity. I really don't think the politics of this should be a motivation. 'Exclusion' as noted in the OP is when you hang a sign on your restaurant that says 'Whites Only'. No non-gendered or variably-gendered or trans-gendered individual is being excluded with a simple (and optional)profile question about male/female.

What if the gender question was originally asked simply to address pronouns and all of this was discussed and settled previously?

+1 to Damien's post #43.

Michelle’s picture

Instead of worrying about actual gender, why not use the goal of gender pronouns and change it to:

I prefer to be referred to as:

He
She
Rather not say

It's still useful for statistics because it's reasonable to assume that most of the "she" are either biologically female or at least conduct themselves as female. And it takes the emphasis off of defining yourself as male or female and puts it on how you want people to refer to you in conversation.

I must say, these threads always make me scratch my head. As a female who's been in the IT world for 20 some years, I've just really never had a problem. I've never hidden the fact that I'm female and usually don't think much about it. I can't speak for transgender people and how they might feel about this but I checked "female" without a second thought.

Michelle

mlncn’s picture

Why we have this: data collection without marginalizing, choosing to represent groups that need representation in our community (but keeping it all optional for comfort, safety, etc.).

Doing this with multiple select would be a a nice addition.

The Other field that let's you pick your own, also good.

That said, the taxonomy to choose from should include:


Female
Male
Intersex
Transgender
Other

The reason for including intersex, find out at Intersex Society of North America - a Drupal site :-)

Anyhow, lets please not slide back from where we are now -- Female, Male, Transgender, Other.

webchick’s picture

"Are you implying that a handful of us have somehow gotten off-topic to discuss varied classifications of sexual identity?"

No, I meant that getting into the whole "let's discuss how women are or are not marginalized in technology" tangent was off-topic. We have a whole group on g.d.o for discussing those kinds of issues. :) This was my bad. I was trying to explain why I didn't want to delete the gender field altogether, but should've left it at that.

This issue is actually pretty simple:

  • Several people, some of whom identify as transgendered, and some of whom do not, have approached me privately over the months/years and raised the issue that binary gender selectors are exclusionary to them, or to people they care about.
  • There are also several resources on the web that corrborate this view.
  • Drupal.org has (or I guess had) a binary gender selector. Our community wants to be open and welcoming to all, and therefore addressing this long-standing issue seems like a good thing to do.
  • The scope of this issue is simply about what to do about it.

There are a few different options that have been proposed:

  1. Remove the gender field altogether.
  2. Offer both "trangender" and "other" for those whose gender identity isn't so easily pigeonholed. This is the solution that was deployed by a well-meaning webmaster who thought consensus had been reached.
  3. Something else: Replace "Trangendered" and "Other" with "It's complicated," offer a free-form text field for "Other," include "Intersexed" as an additional option, change Gender into a Pronoun field instead, etc.

Keeping discussion focused on a technical solution to this issue, rather than on challenging fundamental societal views on gender norms (or trying to dictate to volunteers how they should spend their time) seems the best course of action to get this resolved, imo. For a broader social discussion on gender and how it relates or doesn't to challenges in technology, we can have that in http://groups.drupal.org/drupalchix.

spamjim’s picture

With all of this detail, please also add:

Female, prepubescent
Male, prepubescent
Female, post-menopause
Male, post-andropause

I'm sure you and I would not want to offend anyone on Drupal.org by carelessly discussing breeding in the company of those that cannot yet or can no longer breed. We all know that these distinctions are critical to Drupal development.

Think of the many that would like to proudly announce to fellow Drupallers that they are prepubescent or no longer fertile... but cannot because they are shackled by the basic terms of just male/female.

By ignoring prepubescents and former-fertiles, we exclude a large portion of our community. These non-breeders may feel that their role in the Drupal community is diminished.

arianek’s picture

@hefox that's totally it! nice one :-) i'm not crazy!

arianek’s picture

Wow, just caught up...

I like the direction this is going, but would *heavily* recommend not using "other" as the 3rd option - the whole us vs them binary stuff, ick.

I actually really like the idea of the style:

I prefer to be referred to as:

He
She
Rather not say

As that addresses gender-identification much more than sex, which is really what the point is if we're trying to be more gender aware. But we definitely need another option of something like "genderqueer" or "it's complicated" added to that list - something that is not about sex or sexual orientation explicitly, but gives an option for those that do not identify clearly into he/she but also don't want to just be gender-anonymous.

LOVE that this discussion is actually happening in a greater sense, I think this is LONG overdue!

dmitrig01’s picture

My $.02: add "it" as an option.

[Edit: this actually could apply to a lot of people who like to keep themselves anonymous, and yes, I'm taking this completely seriously]

hefox’s picture

We were discussing gender pronouns on IRC also, and the conclusion is basically it has the same issues, see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gender-neutral_pronoun#Summary (dmitrig01, see the section on it, in general "it" as a pronoun is dehumanizing). "Rather not say" wouldn't fit with those that want to say, but don't have the option to say, which leads again to the same issue.

this topic, at least to my understanding, but I'm heavily biased, is expanding the Gender options, so for people that wish to fill out the field outside of Male Or Female can adequately fill out the field, if they so desire.

I know it's basically been said, but as there still seems to be some confusion:

Gender is not sex.

Gender identity is not sexual identity.

Sex relates to the body, sexual characteristics, gender is what "a person self-identifies as."

Gender identity is not sexual orientation; transgendered people are all sorts of sexual orientations. From what I recall,. there may be higher rates of homosexuality/bisexuality/etc. among transgendered, but in general its close Cisgender ratios.

JacobSingh’s picture

I'm really happy d.o. is dealing with this. Webchick ++1 for making this happen.

To all detractors and people making light of it:

Where are you really coming from? Why is this threatening to you? I don't think it will hurt you. Unless it actually hurts your feelings, please stop stalling something which makes our community more inclusive.

If it does hurt your sentiments, then perhaps do some research and find out about the issue, my guess is you don't know much about it. I highly recommend the book Gender Outlaw It's not too long and really outlines well in an accessible tone what "it" is all about.

My 2 bits is that this is not something we need to decide or over-engineer. Just ask the National Center for Transgendered Equality (http://www.transequality.org/) what they recommend for a single select drop-down and do that.

Make pronoun a different field if need be.

Best,
Jacob

spamjim’s picture

Sex relates to the body, sexual characteristics, gender is what "a person self-identifies as."

hefox: Then we should also offer an option that allows us to identify ourself as a duck, an owl or a monkey. You are still missing the point that if we open up something other than male/female, we introduce confusion about how we address each other with the gendered pronouns our language is limited to. Why do we want to introduce confusion to a topic (addressing others with gender-appropriate pronouns) that has been recognized as important by webchick and yourself?

my guess is you don't know much about it.

Your guess is wrong and a little insulting, especially when the reasons have been so fully explained by several here. As one of the several detractors of this issue that believe gender is pointless on d.o (just as we do not record how we identify ourselves with political or religious preferences), I personally do not feel threatened. I, like others here, simply see this self identity as useless info. If someone really needs to proudly announce their gender, there are other fields in the profile that they can sneak that information into.

One woman (without any gender ambiguity issues) even felt threatened to admit her gender because she was asked the gender question. 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.

JacobSingh’s picture

@spamjim:

"simply see this self identity as useless info"

I don't know where you get your drives from, but disk space is pretty cheap these days. Your arguing on this issue has used up about 50k of disk space. If we assume the gender field is a single bit, then I guess we're talking somewhere about 400,000 users could store their gender in the same amount of space. And none of them would hurt your feelings :)

Since it is a non-required field (like all profile fields), I suppose we might save a little bit when you and everyone else who believes that the world is an egalitarian place where peoples' color, gender, nationality, class are irrelevant in our modern utopia can choose to exercise your right to leave it blank. Sound good? :)

linclark’s picture

I'm not diving into the full thread here, but thank you (!) for bringing this up. I do think that Other should be an option, or that we should use one of the "Something else" options that Webchick proposed.

This makes me <3 Drupal so-much-even-more.

Gerhard Killesreiter’s picture

If I had known what consequences my re-opening of this issue would have, I'd have left it as fixed...

In principle I agree with Damien and Larry and think we should not waste too much time on this.

However, there are apparently people who think this is kind of important.

Considering that nobody has ever complained about the gender field being there, it seems wrong to now remove it now (although I wouldn't put it there if I'd create a website about software(!)).

Regarding adding options, we should follow Drupal's mantra and keep it simple.

So, either we add 1 option and call it either "other" or "it's complicated" (I don't care which), or we change the field to be a textfield where everybody is free to enter whatever is deemed interesting or leave it empty. I don't want to add an extra field for this.

Anonymous’s picture

I think this is important. In webchick's comment #49, I prefer options #2 and #3 for the free form text field.

The notion that someone's gender is "complicated" (and by deduction "male" and "female" are uncomplicated) is not cool though. "Complicated" is a burden, and it's one that we all can share. Please no "it's complicated." I read it as a judgment about how ordered or disordered someone's identity is.

sreynen’s picture

This is a really interesting discussion. As someone who chose not to use the gender field, I have a similar perspective to the proponents of removing the gender field, but I'd like to point out how this might look if done in the context of a proposal to add non-binary gender identity option. Specifically, it might look like the Drupal community valued binary gender identifications, but found non-binary gender identity so abhorrent that we were willing to sacrifice something we valued just to avoid accepting non-binary identifications.

I'm not saying this is actually anyone's motivation, rather that the context creates that appearance and because that appearance is misleading, this isn't a good context to make that particular proposal. Suggesting the removal of the gender field as a separate topic a few weeks after this thread is closed, on the other hand, would accomplish the same thing without any of the negative appearances that may arise from the context of this thread.

jbrauer’s picture

It's great we're having this discussion. I don't have a solution but did want to weigh in on the "It's complicated" idea which rubs me the wrong way. As @bangpound said eloquently in #60:

The notion that someone's gender is "complicated" (and by deduction "male" and "female" are uncomplicated) is not cool though. "Complicated" is a burden, and it's one that we all can share. Please no "it's complicated." I read it as a judgment about how ordered or disordered someone's identity is.

People with any number of gender identities that are, for them, complicated or uncomplicated but that is a separate issue from how they identify and a much more personal question that has no place in profiles on Drupal.org.

Crell’s picture

If people are so hung up on "gender identity", rename the field to "Sex", which even gender-advocacy groups acknowledge is tied to biology rather than fluid relativistic psycho-social dynamics.

chachasikes’s picture

My vote:
Please allow more time (a month or two) to truly reach a reasonable consensus and a sophisticated, forward-moving solution.

Definitely Relevant Technical discussion

I think that this problem can be solved by using our technical knowledge to build a simple system that supports a complex taxonomical challenge.

I prefer:

Gender Identity:

Checkboxes:
Female
Male
More >
More would point to a primary taxonomy and a 'contributed taxonomy'

The primary taxonomy would include 4-5 options, TBD. Gender terms DO change over time. Ten years ago everyone was queer. Now I am out of date because the younger queerlets are all genderqueer, trans, and more. And since gender identity is actually not fixed (mine changes all the time, in my head), the tool should be able to keep up with it. As more Drupal people become aware of this, and aware of themselves...people's find identities that they like much better than the old definitions.

The contributed taxonomy should not be trivialized with references to animals. Come on, please. This would be a serious list, moderated. In this list people can add their own, and change it as fitting. Change is awesome, but this would need the support and volunteer power of a community interested in that issue.

Similarly, it would be cool to develop an identity system that would also apply to other communities. Self-identification among various other minority communities is also fluid. But seriously, that DOES need to be a totally different thread because a gender identity button is just one kind of feature – but identification among other groups of people might not have the same emotional connection to a demographic button.

For our communities, identification IS important, and that IS part of what makes us feel secure and safe enough to simmer down and focus on code and technical issues. I feel so much more secure knowing that somewhere in the world there are more women with similar experiences to me, and that they love what I do: Drupal.

And yes, actually, someone might actually want to maintain a taxonomy of genders. We can ask. It would be a really amazing way to introduce the flexibility of open source to a community that is not involved in creative software development. How cool would it be to have Drupal help that? How awesome would it be to teach open source at the GLBT center? To build a tool that can keep up with the evolution of gender identity would be a great strength of Drupal. And this problem comes up a lot for all of the websites that use Drupal, since people filling out these forms use Drupal websites and reuse the same tools over and over again. It is a worthwhile issue - small to some of you, huge to some of us, but the same can be said of all kinds of obscure Drupal threads. And don't forget, the non-profit sector is important to Drupal. Those communities are all about inclusion. So this is a great opportunity to rise to the occasion. And there are plenty of gender theorists who have made this their career and find the subject utterly fascinating.

Unavoidable Sidenote

A few things I have to say:
spamjim, damien, crell: many of the things you have said have deeply offended me on behalf of all my queer self, all my queer & feminist friends & on behalf of other things that could be said by accident in any other discussion about difference. Frankly, it is a bit frightening. It isn't just you - and my emotions really have nothing to do with you personally. The dismissive attitude is quite painful as read via a discussion thread. Sadly, this is extremely widespread and typical behavior among 'smart men' in technology & the sciences. It does not make Open Source very attractive as a career field. You/They will trivialize something that is not your/their experience and that is not OK. Shoving this issue under the rug doesn't help either.

To anyone who thinks that this is not more important than working on code, you could be mistaken. You're building your own glass ceiling on your quest to “world domination.” ... world domination? That is part of the problem: you think you can dominate with code. Maybe you can. Maybe you can trivialize this issue because you can walk around safe and sound and never think twice about it.

However, that is NOT the Drupal I joined or work 24 hours a day learning, building, planning, organizing for. I joined webchick's Drupal. I joined the Drupal of all the people who passionately work on Drupal because they want to build a better world with the people around me, NOT to dominate the world. I joined Drupal because of all the amazing organizations around the world who use Drupal. All my Drupal friends are the same way. That's why I love it. We can use our technological power to alter the world, right?

And I will go ahead and add my own observation: this 'Inclusion in Open Source' movement has a lot of representation by women and men with complex gender identities. Personally, I am pretty comfortable with the situation that I have had to develop two gender identities, one for me, and one for working in software development. This issue doesn't scare me because I have been dealing with it for ages. I think webchick's point about some of us wanting a way to be OUT AND PROUD matters. We are really seriously trying to Grow Drupal.

Sure, that part of the issue touches nerves, and we are dying to talk about it. (Technical side note: Do we have the best mechanism for 'forking conversations'?) I think, too, that sometimes the backlash can come from people who also really, really want to talk about it. This doesn't go away even if you bury yourself in Drupal.

Anyways Drupal people, much love to you all. Even the buttheads. I am very happy to be part of a community where we argue about this (rather than avoid it) :P

webchick’s picture

I agree with killes that my preference is to solve this by additional / replacement options in the existing Gender single-select drop-down, because I want something easy to deploy on Drupal.org that doesn't get further held up by other technical requirements, like doing a huge data migration of existing data to a multi-select/free-tagging field, or getting code to do conditional drop-downs approved by the security team, etc. That'll only draw it out another 5 years. :P~ Remember, this is Profile module we're talking about here... ugh.

But obviously, the opinion of those personally affected by this holds more sway.

webchick’s picture

chachasikes: A contrib project that attempts to solve this in a general way would be really, really awesome. This post: http://www.sarahdopp.com/blog/2010/designing-a-better-drop-down-menu-for... had some really interesting ideas for what a "true" gender selector might look like. I don't know that we could use this on Drupal.org since we're rather locked into somewhat primitive tools (see #65), but the module would be hugely beneficial for other sites that want to be more inclusive.

And thanks for articulating what I couldn't above on why this field matters.

hefox’s picture

Noting that there is not multi selection for profile module, which I didn't know as I try to avoid that module as much as possible (#124348: Multiple Select List addon).

My current favorite, considering the limitations, is
Male or
Female or
More
+ textfield

chachasikes: As a potential project, I like your idea, but I'd rather due it more broad, or rather, make tools that can be reused for other purposes; for example, a taxonomy widget that adds an easy to add "More" option. However, It could be cool if there was a "feature" (think features module) that provided easy to use gender field, to encourage use of it. But as not to clutter this thread, perhaps IRC or Contact tab me to discuss more if you're interested?

NancyDru’s picture

I suppose someone has done some homework and asked me to jump in.

First, I somewhat agree with Gerhard, "Gender" should go away; it is entirely immaterial, even to demographics. As one can see from this discussion, the number of potential choices abound, therefore the statistics will inevitably go astray. "Gender" depends on one's definition: does one refer to whom I am attracted, or how I prefer to present in society, or how I think of myself, or even which role I take in the bedroom. These are all valid clinical definitions of gender, and they rarely match straight across in anyone.

I also agree that a field indicating how we wish to be addressed is not only important, but critical. So perhaps a better description of the field is "I wish to be addressed as a ..."

For example, I wish to be addressed with feminine terms (she, her, Ms., etc.); in the long run, my "gender" is largely none of anyone's business. I lump this into the same category as "marital status" - I prefer "Ms." to "Miss" or "Mrs."; unless I am in a situation where husband candidates are around, in which case they can examine my finger and see no ring, then it is of no importance.

Crell’s picture

As has no doubt become obvious, this is a very high-energy political question for some. One reason for that is that there are plenty of people who find "gender fluidity" to be just as uncomfortable and offensive as some find "strict binary gender". It may be the less politically correct position, but then not everyone cares about conventional definitions of politically correct. They are just as shifting as the definition of "queer", which as noted above has changed considerably just within my lifetime. Open source may trend to the Left, which by and large tends to be more open to gender fluidity, but that's not a representative sample of the population.

I am officially not taking a position on that question at this time, because my own views on the matter are not relevant to the point I am making.

The point I am making is that yes, this is a contentious issue, and by taking a position on it we are making a biased, political statement. No matter how it ends up, it will annoy, anger, and/or offend some group. By making a decision, we are saying that we are more OK with offending one group than another. It's not a question of whether we embrace gender-fluid people or not; it's a question of whether we'd rather "take sides" with gender-fluidity advocates or with the more-common-in-mainstream-culture mostly-binary understanding of gender. Remember, Drupal geeks are not a representative sample of the overall population.

I just want people to understand the significance of this move. This branches way outside the realm of software or software advocacy and into highly-charged political realms. Go into that with eyes open.

(And yes, it does feel extremely weird to be the one bringing up the conservative standpoint in this thread given that I am generally a very left-leaning person.)

Gerhard Killesreiter’s picture

I wasn't aware that this was such a polar issue in the US (it sure would be highly unusual in Europe).

Maybe we should just shelve it, then. Making drupal.org the battlefield of political correctness can't be in the interest of the Drupal project.

NancyDru’s picture

Gerhard, it is an issue in Europe, just not as heated. It is more of an issue here because of denial of rights to people who are "different." I agree this is no place for political discussions. However, it is also not the place to offend one group over another. I feel that "I wish to be addressed as" is the least contentious way to handle it. Further the old male/female choices convert very readily, maintaining historical significance.

becw’s picture

Reading the comments in this thread made me queasy. Personally, I'm don't like the inclusion of 'transgender' in the options; transgender is about a person's relationship to gender and about their personal process--'transgender' itself is not a gender. That said, other people who identify as genderqueer have different relationships to the word. I think that no answer/female/male/other, without an extra space to enumerate 'other', is plenty--it's important that folks have the opportunity to represent various identities within the community, but I don't think there is room for that within the context of a dropdown 'gender' field.

The goal of Drupal as a social network is not to discover 'new and cool peeps' based on profile facets and existing comfort levels, but rather to provide some ammount of context for folks who we work with in the community. Again personally, I don't think it's relevant to ask folks to describe the details of our gender identities, our sexual identity, our relationship status, our national origin, our age, etc. in user profiles; if we did decide that we wanted that or other specific demographic information about our community, I think it would make sense to house it under a separate and private 'user survey' tab.

Some users feel it is important to represent and discuss various identities in their Drupal profiles; I agree that recognizing the complexity and range of our community is key to our openness and ultimately to our growth. I think that there is ample room to express this in the 'personal interests' field, on the 'Drupal site' our profiles can link to, in comment threads, and in IRC.

p.s. Thanks chach (#64) & webchick :)

Gerhard Killesreiter’s picture

Although I like the suggestion to change the field as Nancy suggested, I have to point out that this will only change the discussion parameters, ie people could want to be addressed as "Dr." "Professor" "The right honourable" "Her Royal Highness" etc.

(It is rather common in e.g. Germany to use academic titles on addresses, and these choises are also not uncommon to find on German websites, maybe more likely on conservative websites)

Crell’s picture

Let's take a step back for a moment...

What is the purpose of the demographic content we collect (all of which is opt-in)? Possible, non-exclusive answers include:

1) Get-to-know-your-coworkers

2) Idle curiosity statistics

3) Internal-political statistics (eg, "our female population is increasing", "our non-English-speaking population is declining", etc.)

4) External-political statistics (eg, "look world, Drupal's got lots of *insert group here*")

5) Marketing data

All of those are possibilities, and I'm sure there's more, but which ones we want to focus on will determine the sorts of demographic data we collect. A dating site wants very different demographic data than a bank, for instance.

NancyDru’s picture

And, Herr Killesreiter, that is only right. The US is plagued with extreme casualness and familiarity, but we should not force others into it. I do like the ring of "Your Royal Highness." On some forms that request a company title I fill in "Empress of the Universe."

spamjim’s picture

+1 for #63
+1 for #68

For my posts I have tried to keep my own politics out of this, only noting the political issues that others might take issue with and how this matter is not easily engineered. I personally do not care about gender and demonstrated this in my first post by removing my gender answer. I vow to be un-gendered on d.o for eternity. I am neither proud nor ashamed of what gender I perceive myself to be on a software development web site and question the motivations of those that are making this an issue.

What are the true motivations of this discussion?

This proposal is not really based on improving the pronoun dilemma as the introduction of more gender options will only confuse us with our limited language pronouns of "his, hers, he, she".

This proposal is not based on improving statistical data gathering as the introduction of a variable text field will certainly muddy the results.

If this proposal is simply to make someone feel good and you want to do a personal favor for them then don't bother asking for consensus. You should not require a consensus to be nice to somebody.

The only reason why gender data is recorded in government or business is for the fair distribution of rights or benefits. There's no way that an open source project could be discriminatory on its own so we would need to look higher up the ladder. Does Drupal.org ever need to report gender info to any government, charity, foundation, fund or other entity that provides grants or other aid to Drupal.org? If so, what classifications are required by those organizations?

spamjim, damien, crell: many of the things you have said have deeply offended me on behalf of all my queer self, all my queer & feminist friends & on behalf of other things that could be said by accident in any other discussion about difference. Frankly, it is a bit frightening. It isn't just you - and my emotions really have nothing to do with you personally. The dismissive attitude is quite painful as read via a discussion thread. Sadly, this is extremely widespread and typical behavior among 'smart men' in technology & the sciences. It does not make Open Source very attractive as a career field. You/They will trivialize something that is not your/their experience and that is not OK. Shoving this issue under the rug doesn't help either.

chachasikes: I find it seriously offensive that you think you are being ignored by 'smart men'. How would you know if spamjim, damien, and crell are truly male or even represent male views? Why would you be so hateful to stereotype men as being the group to oppose or ignore your views? You are engaging in the same gender exclusion that you allege you suffer from. Let's just drop the idea that we're in anyway different and realize a common purpose: a CMS that is available to and developed by everyone. Gender is meaningless here and only introduces the possibility of conflict.

I'm sorry if anyone has felt offended by posts that negate the importance of gender. But if you judge the inclusiveness of a software project based on an optional gender profile field, then you have greater issues than sexual identity. When I first learned about Drupal I had no idea if Dries was male/female/other and had no reason to care. Gender is a pretty lame issue to attract or detract an audience with software.

I've gotta move on. It has been an interesting, while still futile, discussion. Thanks.

webchick’s picture

To put chachasikes's post another way: when people who are cisgender tell people who are not that "gender is of no importance," it comes across as incredibly dismissive and insulting.

Obviously I can't speak for Crell, Damien, and spamjim's personal feelings about their gender identities, but I do know that both Crell and Damien are referred to as "he" in real life and I've never seen either of them correct anyone to that effect.

NancyDru’s picture

In reality, if one considers all the proffered definitions of gender (some I mentioned above), I doubt that anyone is truly and completely cisgendered, But this is not the place for that discussion. If you wish to contact me offline, then feel free.

In the context of DO, as far as I am concerned, the only reason for a gender designation of any kind is to know how to address someone, particularly those who naming language is unfamiliar to the rest of us. For example, most people in the English-speaking world would recognize that "Nancy" is a feminine name. However, to use a familiar name, I have no idea which way to address Khalid based on the name alone, simply because I am unfamiliar with that language. And Khalid may have no way of knowing that Nancy is a feminine name. On the other hand it is not that hard, most of the time, to remain gender neutral with a little care.

davegan’s picture

I'd agree with those who say to drop it completely. I don't think "other" option is as much of a middle ground as people think; forcing people to make a decision is an unnecessary intrusion.

I think there are probably better ways to track user statistics and trends. An opt-in survey would be one of them, where the information is not tied to any particular user account or identity.

I also don't see the legitimate argument for the pronoun. There are plenty of online communities that function just fine without this.

With all the places that we're handing over private information, I just don't see a good reason that Drupal.org needs to be yet another one of them.

webchick’s picture

Note that the gender field is, and always will be, an optional field. No one's forcing anyone to hand over any private information on Drupal.org, and no one's arguing for changing that, either.

I wonder if those online communities that function fine without this have some combination of either user pictures to help identify people and/or a make-up that is not ~90% male. If we remove the gender field altogether, which is definitely the "easy" way out here because it basically says "we give up," then the only women in our community who have any hope and prayer of being identified and addressed as such are either those with "girly" nicknames or those who have socked enough hours contributing on d.o that everyone inherently knows who they are.

Dunno. Feels like a big step backwards to me. But to play devil's advocate, it was also the #2 recommendation in http://www.sarahdopp.com/blog/2010/designing-a-better-drop-down-menu-for... for dealing with this issue.

Michelle’s picture

FWIW, I _have_ gone and looked at someone's profile on multiple occasions to see if they put male or female when I wanted to use a pronoun and wasn't sure. I try not to assume everyone is male and it bothers me to get it wrong. So it's helpful to have the information. That's why I made my suggestion of simply having the user choose how they want to be addressed rather than worrying about what parts they have or how they feel about them. Nice and simple. :)

Michelle

killes@www.drop.org’s picture

Maybe some hard data is in order to substantiate this.

mysql> select count(*) from users where uid > 0 and status = 1;
+----------+
| count(*) |
+----------+
| 584422 |
+----------+

That means we have 584422 active (non-blocked) user accounts.

This goes down quite a bit if we request that the account was actually used at least once:

mysql> select count(*) from users where uid > 0 and status = 1 and login > 0;
+----------+
| count(*) |
+----------+
| 425406 |

select count(*) from profile_values pv inner join users u on u.uid = pv.uid where u.uid > 0 and u.status = 1 and pv.fid = 7;
+----------+
| count(*) |
+----------+
| 41932 |

That means that 41932 (or roughly 10%) of these have bothered to fill out that gender field...

Moreover...

mysql> select distinct(pv.value), count(pv.value) from profile_values pv inner join users u on u.uid = pv.uid where u.uid > 0 and u.status = 1 and pv.fid = 7 group by pv.value;
+-------------+-----------------+
| value | count(pv.value) |
+-------------+-----------------+
| | 2 |
| 0 | 9076 |
| female | 3004 |
| male | 29849 |
| transgender | 1 |
+-------------+-----------------+

However, roughly 75% of all users who bothered to save the form in which the gender field resides have actually made a choice different from the default , which is "not specified".

If we only look at the accounts that were used since thestart of the year, this looks as follows:

mysql> select distinct(pv.value), count(pv.value) from profile_values pv inner join users u on u.uid = pv.uid inner join users_access ua on u.uid = ua.uid where u.uid > 0 and u.status = 1 and pv.fid = 7 and from_unixtime(ua.access) > '2010-01-01 00:00:00' group by pv.value;
+-------------+-----------------+
| value | count(pv.value) |
+-------------+-----------------+
| 0 | 2895 |
| female | 942 |
| male | 11618 |
| transgender | 1 |
+-------------+-----------------+

David_Rothstein’s picture

But to play devil's advocate, it was also the #2 recommendation in http://www.sarahdopp.com/blog/2010/designing-a-better-drop-down-menu-for... for dealing with this issue.

In addition, it was the number #1 recommendation of http://www.opendoors.net.au/wp-content/uploads/2009/10/creating-inclusiv... (the PDF file you linked to above).

Personally, I'd be supportive of getting rid of it, but only if it were replaced with a "More information about me" textarea or some such (with gender mentioned as a suggestion for something you might want to mention when filling out that field). That's a bigger change that probably deserves its own issue though - not sure it makes sense to discuss here.

I'd really recommend that people read that PDF file, by the way. It's only 8 pages long (i.e. shorter than this thread!) and is very well written and obviously written by people who have thought about the issue a lot more than most of us have. Essentially the cliff notes version is that if we have to provide a list of choices, the choices that are there now are a good list, but they'd also recommend (a) Changing "Gender" to "Gender identity", (b) providing a free-form textfield next to "Other", and (c) using checkboxes rather than a select list. I'd be wary of the last two though, just because it's kind of putting more focus on that profile field than we ideally want to (it's definitely not the most important question we are asking people on that form). Any bells and whistles we add to that form element, there is an equally good argument for adding it to e.g. the "Country" list right below that... so where would it all end? We'd wind up with a comprehensive but pretty daunting-looking form :)

Anonymous’s picture

Crell misses one very important reason for asking these demographic questions. We may want to know the answer, but the question also serves to tell the person who is answering "We try to think carefully about this" and "you are welcome here." These gestures are important! It's important that we can make some people say "Thanks for asking" and that we make nobody say "What a question to ask! You don't even know me! How dare you!"

I also appreciate the risk that the question may tell new members of the community that we are a community who values a specific set of politics located in a culturally specific ideology that sees itself as "progressive." I think this is the concern Crell and some of the others have, and I have it too. (I don't mean to pick on Crell.)

I also want to note that the country field is neither complete in every possible way (no Wales or Kurdistan) nor completely consistent with normative nationalist ideas (it includes Palestine and Ireland [not Republic of Ireland]). It includes Zaire for goodness sake! It's been called Democratic Republic of the Congo since 1997.

I'm not complaining about this at all, but I am suggesting that the ordered taxonomy of countries is actually a bit inconsistent, hodge-podge and unlikely to please everyone, and I don't think the list of genders should be scaffolded by a normative rigidity we don't employ everywhere.

arianek’s picture

First I want to say thanks to Chach for speaking up so eloquently, I very much appreciated hearing your viewpoint on it.

If it's not feasible to have some sort of other > moderated freetag field added, then I *guess* I'd find bec's suggestion acceptable, but I still don't feel right about "other" tho as much as bangpound pointed out "it's complicated" really doesn't seem to be much of an improvement.

I still would like to put on the table (as NancyDru seems to have seconded) making the field not so "gender" per se, but:

"I prefer to be addressed as":
- he
- she
- gender-neutral
- prefer not to say

It takes a lot of the difficulties out of the options, while still accommodating other choices. Might this be a good compromise and more practical?

kiamlaluno’s picture

Just to understand: what should be the personal pronoun to use for who prefers to be addressed as gender-neutral?

webchick’s picture

@kiam: I think "avoid it." Which probably means addressing kiam in third-person when talking about kiam. Even though that's a bit awkward. :)

A few people now have brought up the "Let's make it a pronoun field instead" option. I know a few people had objections to this when it was raised in IRC, but I can't quite recall what they were. I guess one is that with gender being a fluid thing it's not always possible to nail this down, but "prefer not to say" or similar seems like it handles that. It would also address my concern of women becoming invisible in the Drupal community.

Feedback?

sreynen’s picture

There's a lengthy Wikipedia page on gender-neutral pronouns, though no standard just yet.

Also, shifting the question from self-identification to biology doesn't help. XXY, XYY, and XXYY are all biological conditions that are passively excluded by the current field.

mlncn’s picture

what should be the personal pronoun to use for who prefers to be addressed as gender-neutral?

kiamialuno, that is an excellent question. Because there is sadly nothing close to consensus – i try to rephrase without our limited pronouns, but there are so many cases (unknown person, gender unimportant, etc) where a true gender-neutral pronoun would be great – that's not something the Drupal community is in a position to decide.

Beyond that, i do not think we want to drop gender identity in exchange for what we want to be called, for two reasons:

  1. not losing existing data - the existing field, which no one has really voiced dislike for before, just a desire to expand on, shouldn't be removed and cannot be converted one-to-one to pronouns.
  2. having the new data. It's not just about what to call someone. As Jacob Singh and others point out what should be self-evident, we do not live in a post-gender (or sexual-orientation, race, class...) utopia. Not collecting any data just would let us pretend that all is well in, say, a Drupal community that is 90% male white first-world non-old people with good opportunities. Allowing current people to identify as female (as many of our greats proudly do) is important for having a community where potential new members (female and non) feel more comfortable joining. The same argument goes for identifying as transgender.

An expansion on both points: Crell has a point about any decision here offending someone, but i posit that there is a different quality to the offense someone takes to someone else being able to identify themselves, and the feeling of being excluded by being denied the ability to identify oneself. Furthermore, following my example above, if any potential Drupal community members were turned off by the recent celebration of Ada Lovelace day-- that's their problem. They would restrict the healthy growth of our community more than build it. Allowing the underrepresented and historically -- ah heck, currently -- discriminated against to show that they are present and proud. My 90% male and white figure was meant as an exaggeration, but it's frighteningly close to reality.

Male, female, intersex (the reality that biology isn't binary), transgender (frequently used by those who don't take biology as destiny), and other covers capturing information more completely for this one aspect of our community.

(This is an easier aspect, really. Taking on other underrepresentation – and at 1 to 5 percent of the general population, transgender people are probably underrepresented in the Drupal community, but how would we know? – anyway, was saying tat taking on other underrepresentation ultimately means taking on wealth inequality. There are other fields in the profile for various such interests.)

benjamin, agaric

Anonymous’s picture

This is my feeble attempt to try to bring the issue back to the original topic and facts.

Currently, the gender field on Drupal.org has these options:

--
male
female
transgender
other

I think this action was taken by Dave Reid who then set the issue status to fixed.

Since then, a lot of other ideas have been suggested, and these resources have been mentioned:

http://www.sarahdopp.com/blog/2010/designing-a-better-drop-down-menu-for...
http://www.opendoors.net.au/wp-content/uploads/2009/10/creating-inclusiv...

The issue of pronouns has been raised because one reason for this issue is the need to know who we're talking to and avoid embarrassment, confusion and insult by using the wrong pronoun when talking about someone in the third person. (I worry that asking users "which pronoun should we use?" could be a serious usability problem for non-native English speakers. It's très oblique.)

A more complex gender field that allows for real free choice without obscuring the most common options is a serious development task involving usability tests and careful work with the security team. It will require skills in UI, UX design, field API (if we're using D7), form API and perhaps even taxonomy expertise. I think Chachasikes has proposed a contrib module? This is a compelling project, because making good UI elements for common but complex questions is both valuable for the specific outcome vis à vis gender on Drupal.org profiles and the lessons that can be learned about creating complex fields in Drupal. I know that I make sites where this field would be useful, and I bet other people do too.

Some other ideas involve dropping the field or merging it into a more narrative style "information about me." That becomes a question about what Drupal.org profiles are supposed to ask and what we want to know about Drupal community members.

My questions for the reader:

  1. Does the current set of options satisfy the original concerns for the people who raised this issue?
  2. Is anyone interested in working on that contrib module?
  3. Who is interested in a larger discussion about Drupal.org profiles? Who needs to be involved in that? Why do we ask the questions we do? Would we be thinking about revising d.o profiles if this specific issue weren't raised?

I'm not trying to shut down discussion at all, but I do think it's important to stay focused and topical on the issue queues.

My sense of this community: we appreciate the values and ideas of people who aren't necessarily just like "me." We're individually equipped to have mature, professional discussions about complex social/political issues that touch on personal experiences AND on the functioning and constitution of Drupal, Drupal.org and the community. For the most part, we do listen to each other. So I add these questions for consideration after the ones above:

  1. Are there concerns raised in the comments on this issue that are better worked out in a discussion in IRC or at a BoF?
  2. If we threw a BoF, would everyone--including people whose views may be thoughtfully and civilly contrarian--come?
Crell’s picture

As we still have not decided what the purpose is of collecting demographic data in the first place, I don't know that we can come to a further conclusion.

Ben: I would note that your post makes the tacit assumption that a "post-gender" society would be a utopia. That's a value judgment that is not universally accepted, and I believe such a viewpoint is actually the minority position in the US, and certainly worldwide. That's the point I'm making. By switching to a more politically correct gender selector, we are making a rather significant and controversial political statement that has absolutely nothing to do with software development. Do we really want to go there? Are we comfortable with the ramifications of doing so? Do we want to make the implication that the belief that gender is not entirely fluid and self-defined is inherently inferior? That's the tacit assumption being made in this thread, but I don't think we realize that is such a contentious position.

No, this is not the place to debate that political hot potato. That's rather my point. To be entirely honest, I don't feel that simply "male" adequately describes my own self-understanding of gender and my relation therein, and many people here will likely reach the wrong conclusion based on just that simple context-free string. However, I do not make an issue of it because it is irrelevant to the subject of software development. Unless of course we want to claim that gender identity impacts one's skillz at coding, or UI design, or documentation, or bug hunting, or any of the other relevant activities here. I make no such claim.

Essentially I would moderate this discussion as -1 Off topic. :-)

JacobSingh’s picture

Larry:
What Ben is saying is that in a white, rich man's world (which Drupal is most certainly a part of) we cannot pretend that gender is irrelevant. The only people who would do that, would be men. Because everyone else know it is extremely relevant to one's chances in society. If we didn't track gender, how would we know that only 1.5% of participants in open source projects were not men? If we didn't know that, how would we know how we are improving that number?

If we didn't track ethnicity in public sectors (and this one always sucks for me because I'm mixed) then how would we know that people of color receive sub-standard education, freedoms, nutrition and healthcare? For as you say, seeing a doctor has nothing to do with the color of ones skin, or the language you speak.

Only by knowing this information are we able to make informed decisions. I think that is very much in line with an engineer's mindset, don't you?

These are complicated decisions, and I agree we can't have every piece of identifying information on the d.o. profile page. However, the onus of proving discrimination, marginalization and demanding inclusion / recognition has always been on the oppressed party. I think it is time that straight white men with good educations and connections - like you I'm guessing, and to an extent me - let people who are marginalized assert themselves here. You lose nothing from the equation, but you have much to gain in being an ally and learning a new paradigm of leadership through following.

Best,
Jacob

Garrett Albright’s picture

+1 for the idea of a "My preferred pronoun is." I think that's a reasonable compromise. The options should be "he/him" and "she/her" (and now we can discuss for fifty posts in which order those two options should appear, Jesus) with no "prefer not to say" option, since that is implicit by simply not selecting anything (or keeping it on the "--" option), and no "other" or any other additional options, because nobody is so special that they can go around demanding that we learn new pronouns to refer to them.

And to C&P something I said in IRC:

<Albright> No, no, no. There should not be a text field where everyone can fill in their own treatises on their personal gender identity. That is so silly.
<Albright> I mean, why not have one for "Language" as well? "Well, I studied Spanish for three years in high school, but I'm sure I've forgotten most of it, but I can still understand it a little if I'm reading it if I go slowly, so I went ahead and selected it…"
Anonymous’s picture

I'm assuming that Crell and Jacob are talking to Ben = Benjamin Melancon and not Ben = bangpound.

Crell says "By switching to a more politically correct gender selector, we are making a rather significant and controversial political statement that has absolutely nothing to do with software development."

The gender field is not apolitical and neutral with 2 options. With 4 or more options it is not suddenly controversial and full of political statements. Asking the question is a political act. Removing the question is also political, but perhaps this act is easier to hide behind.

The question has as much to do with software development when it has 2 options as when it has more. Software development is not just pushing buttons on a keyboard, running tests, writing documentation and coding new features. Software development is the reason we meet up a few times a year and see each other for the humans with bodies we are. I just spent a day yesterday at a Drupal event in Chicago, and we did a lot of talk about software development, but it was also a very social experience. Open source strikes me as a practice where software development becomes even more social.

The country field also has nothing to do with the mechanics of actual software development. Asking and answering it is also a political act, but it's one that individuals are conditioned to answering even when their real choice (perhaps Wales) is not an option (because it's part of the UK).

I'm trying to imagine how a citizen of Kinshasa would feel when she has to answer the question with the former name of her country. Is Drupal.org on the side of Mobutu, the Saddam Hussein of the Congo? Is this some kind of Belgian rejection of Congolese self-determination? Who are the Belgians, our former colonial masters, to tell us the name of our country? (I'm talking nonsense now. Don't think these questions are apolitical. They aren't depoliticized by sanitizing or normalizing the choices.)

Asking about pronouns does not depoliticize the question either, but it does make the question harder to answer. I would like to know of any other sites that ask about pronouns instead of gender, and I want to see usability tests with people whose native language is not English.

I agree that the conversation is now very off topic. I want to read the linked resources today, and I don't want to intervene on the issue again until I have something concrete to offer or to respond to specific issue-related concerns. If you want to discuss the politics, ping me on Twitter or in IRC.

P.S. For evidence: The government of India, commonly referred to as the largest democracy on Earth, recognizes three genders. France, not a marginal place, recognizes more than 2 as well.

jackalope’s picture

First off, thanks to webchick for starting this important conversation. It's gotten massive and I'd be sitting here for hours if I tried to respond to all of the points that have caught my attention so far, so instead I'll respond to a few very recent points and give my suggestion on what we do.

I strongly echo bangpound's response to Crell: "The gender field is not apolitical and neutral with 2 options. With 4 or more options it is not suddenly controversial and full of political statements. Asking the question is a political act." Taking that a step further: retaining a gender field with only two options, male or female, makes the political statement that someone or many someones with power and authority on Drupal.org have deemed it unimportant that this question marginalizes, excludes, and alienates many people. It's a political statement in support of a binary gender system, a statement against gender self-determination, a declaration that people who identity outside of male and female don't even get to say that, much less have people understand or respect that.

Garrett wrote that there should be a pronoun field with only "he/him" and "she/her" and "no 'other' or any other additional options because nobody is so special that they can go around demanding that we learn new pronouns to refer to them." Garrett, I assume that you are lucky enough to benefit from the dominant gender system and feel completely comfortable with the connotation and baggage that comes with whatever pronouns you prefer. I am not so lucky, nor are many others, because the binary gender system was designed to pretend that people like me do not exist and to actively silence, erase, and invalidate us when we pipe up and insist that, yes, we are here. Do you think that you are so special that you get to declare that I have no right to assert my being and identity as I see fit?

Anyway, here are my concrete suggestions for the Gender field:

If we want to keep track of demographics within the Drupal community, I suggest a multi-select Gender Identity field with helper text that says "Choose all that apply." My suggested options: male, female, cisgender/non-trans, transgender, genderqueer, intersex, and other with an accompanying text field.

Such a field would allow us to track a few different aspects of gender identity: whether people identify as male, female, or something else entirely; whether people identify as cisgender, transgender, genderqueer, intersex, or something else entirely. It allows us to track those things without conflating them or pretending that they're mutually exclusive.

I think that last bit is particularly important because it allows for a more nuanced understanding of gender representation and dynamics within the Drupal community. Technology being the male-dominated field that it is, I think it's paramount to examine the representation of women in the community and how that plays out in terms of sexism. However, I think that when we say that tech is a male-dominated field, we really mean that tech is a cisgendered/non-trans male-dominated field. I don't think that a trans man and a cisgender man own the same type of male privilege and impact the gender dynamics of a community in the same way, and if we want to get really real about understanding gender in the Drupal community I think it's important to acknowledge that.

A practical example of how such a gender identity field would work in contrast to the current field (--|male|female|transgender|other) and the old field (--|male|female): for the old field I chose "--" because neither male nor female says enough truth about me for me to choose it. For the new field I chose "other" because none of the other fields are very truthful either, but "other" tells the Drupal community absolutely nothing about my gender identity except that it's probably not one of the other options for unknown reasons. For the gender identity field I'm suggesting I'd check female, genderqueer, and other and fill in "butch." That's because my gender identity when I'm free to state it completely is genderqueer butch, but in terms of how I'm read and treated in the world I function as "female." Thus, as I see it, only field that really gives the Drupal community any useful info about me is this latter one. Plus, it makes me feel seen, heard, and respected, as opposed to alienated, excluded, and rendered invisible like the other questions do.

I also think that with any gender field people should be able to choose to not have it displayed on their public profile. Either we could hide the entire field (technically easier) or we could allow people to hide particular options (I have no idea how we'd manage that). This is because while someone might want to contribute to the census/demographic tracking, they might not want to in turn out all aspects of their gender identity to the world. This would allow for fuller participation and therefore fuller demographic understandings of Drupal.org while also respecting folks' privacy and acknowledging that in both the Drupal community and the world at large it is not always very safe or comfortable to be out about being anything other than a cisgender male.

Finally, on the pronouns tip, if there's a field for it I think it should be a text field, perhaps one that somehow indicates that yes, we get that this is anglophone-centric, like the entirety of Drupal.org. That's because gender identity may or may not correlate with preferred pronouns. For me, I'd fill in such a field with "whatever you'd like to use" because that's my honest answer, I can't really be arsed to choose one because none of them are really more truthful than the others for me. Otherwise we could just encourage people in the Drupal community to ask folks' preferred gender pronoun before assuming one. A pipe dream perhaps, but one I'd love to see happen.

Crell’s picture

@Jacob: I would ask that you not assume regarding my sexual preferences, melanin levels, socio-economic background, or ethnic heritage, or educational history. By doing so you are making the same error that this thread is supposedly trying to combat. (Most people in IRC are straight and white so Crell probably is vs. most people in IRC are male so Crell probably is.) And you are debatably wrong on some of those assumptions.

You lose nothing from the equation, but you have much to gain in being an ally and learning a new paradigm of leadership through following.

I do not even know how to parse that sentence, except as "get on the bandwagon with the in-crowd before it's too late". I presume that was not your intended message...

@bangpound: Yes, I was referring to the other Ben, sorry. :-)

Anonymous’s picture

I know that "vibes watcher" is not an official role in the Drupal community, but I am appointing myself now as a vibes watcher. It's not an exclusive title. You can be a vibes watcher too!

To everyone who is reading and participating: I implore you to remember that we're all real people and to summon rationality, humility, honesty and empathy when you respond. This goes for everyone. I'm not targeting any specific representative of any POV with this plea.

(Dunno if that will work… but it was worth a shot.)

I also want to introduce a "motion" to set this issue to either FIXED or POSTPONED.

Anonymous’s picture

WHEREAS action was taken prematurely by Dave Reid or someone else who implemented the specific suggestion proposed by the member of the community who opened this issue,

WHEREAS the contributions of all members of the community are valued and appreciated, especially when they are devoted to pushing Drupal 7's critical issue count down to 0,

WHEREAS the valuable work of understanding the constitution of the Drupal community is not the exclusive domain of the commentators on this one issue,

WHEREAS gender is but one facet of our individual lives and but one lens through which to understand the community,

WHEREAS developing a more complex profile field (if necessary) requires careful planning, study and coordination,

WHEREAS this issue contains valuable insights and ideas that should not be obscured by negativity or hurt,

WHEREAS arienek and I discussed in IRC that this is our view,

WHEREAS postponing the issue allows any ultimate decision to be delayed until all or more stakeholders are polled or present,

IT IS RESOLVED that this issue is SEMI-FIXED and thus marked POSTPONED.

AND IT IS RESOLVED that further discussion may happen at Drupalcon San Francisco and concurrently in IRC when we can look each other in the eyes and respect the sensibilities and needs of everyone who can participate.

arianek’s picture

Status: Needs work » Postponed
Issue tags: +user profile, +drupal.org redesign, +gender

after discussing this on IRC with several of the supportive community members, i will add my +1 to resolving this as postponed.

it's a huge improvement that we at least aren't just working with male/female as the 2 options now. i totally recognize that it's not the *ideal* set of options, but working within the limits of what the profile module supports atm, this seems like a major step in the right direction.

i'd propose that yes, it is a good idea to talk about this more, and likely translate that into making some more long-term plans as to what should potentially be implemented later or maybe as part of the d.o redesign, when hopefully some more effort can go into fine-tuning the system to allow for a more fine grained set of options/fields.

========

and on a personal note: i'd just like to say how totally floored i am (in a good way) to see the personal impact this has had on so many members of the community. the number of people (some who were strangers to me previously) who have felt safe and supported enough to "come out" in this thread or on IRC in the last few days talking about these issues is nothing short of amazing.

and hearing all the extremely well thought out responses on here, and seeing how much awareness there really is about these issues has made me extremely proud of the community as a whole. sure, there have been some opinions that i wasn't too pleased to hear, but on the whole, the fact that this conversation has happened in a largely respectful manner is pretty damn amazing.

drupal++

webchick’s picture

I think this resolution makes sense; the current solution is really the best we currently can do, given the technology available to us. We'll see how Drupal.org on Drupal 7 and/or the Drupal.org redesign impacts this.

killes@www.drop.org’s picture

Status: Postponed » Active

@bangpound: The style of your last comment irks me.

@all: Since apparently both camps agree that this is a political field, shouldn't we remove it? I don't want to have politics on d.o. Or change it to the proposed "I want to be addressed as".

Anonymous’s picture

I think that is rather preferable to rename the field, or any field not strictly pertinent to programming should be removed (which includes the one for previous work, or the country).

Anonymous’s picture

@killes: You have my sincere apologies for the style of my last comment. It was an attempt to be both non-serious and serious at the same time. When I have to be diplomatic on topics where I have strong opinions, I feel some tension and I relieve the tension through silliness. I do have strong opinions and I also highly value working relationships with people who disagree with me. If my silliness was offensive or abrasive, (again) I do apologize.

However, I will be clear now: The original issue was "Expand options in the 'gender' profile field." This issue never considered removing the field but some of the commentators did. If you would like to propose removing the field entirely, you might have a compelling case… a compelling case to make on a new issue. Were you to open a new issue, I'd invite you to link to it in a follow-up comment on this one.

Please open a new issue if you want to propose removing the gender field. This issue is postponed, a decision supported by others including the person who opened it.

Heine’s picture

Status: Active » Postponed

mfer, the warning precedes the testresult (those with invalid utf8) afaik. A warning on a single quote would not make sense.

killes@www.drop.org’s picture

Status: Postponed » Fixed

Apology accepted.

Created a new issue as requested: #756132: Change gender field to "preferred pronoun" field

Anonymous’s picture

Status: Fixed » Postponed

We are keeping the issue "postponed" to reflect the fact that we are only somewhat satisfied that the issue is resolved and that it cannot be resolved quite yet.

Please respect this.

spamjim’s picture

bangpound writes:

However, I will be clear now: The original issue was "Expand options in the 'gender' profile field." This issue never considered removing the field but some of the commentators did.

Webchick, in the original post, clearly stated the reason for the title you quote...

the Drupal.org Gender profile field excludes them.

Some of the commentators are simply exercising blatant logic. If there is a profile field that excludes someone and if that field does not aid in the development of Drupal - get rid of that field.

It is absurd to militantly hold to an idea of expanding options and, at the same time, discount the logic in removal of the field that will always exclude someone. Everyone already recognizes that expanding the field options:

  • can still offend/exclude some who still do not fall into a specific category label
  • will not aid anyone with addressing pronouns - it actually complicates this
  • will muddy the statistical data if we use free tagging or a general text field
  • will have no benefit to a data collection process which is already neglected by 90% of registered users here that chose not to report a gender.

90% of Drupal users have already voted that the topic of gender is pointless. The idea of removing this field seems pretty resolved at 90%.

Statistical data source: http://drupal.org/node/752452#comment-2772680

jackalope’s picture

90% of Drupal users have already voted that the topic of gender is pointless.

@spamjim: That is simply not true. You can't just take the percentage of registered users who declined to select an option from the old Gender field and declare that they did so because they believe that the topic of gender is pointless. How do you know why they didn't select one of the options? I, for one, declined to select an option not because I think the topic is pointless - quite to the contrary, in fact - but rather because there was no accurate option for me to choose.

spamjim’s picture

jackaponte: Surely you would not imply that 90% of Drupal users are 'other'.

If 10% of specific genders reported on Drupal.org, we can recognize from the general population that a subset no greater than 1-2% (on the generous side) is not specifically male/female - - - - then you still have 88% of people that just don't care about gender.

So what benefit do I have to know you are 'other'?

Do I address your Drupal issues as 'his problem' or 'her problem'?

How is 'other' any better than no answer?

What have we gained by adding 'other' to the gender options?

hefox’s picture

"Cherry picking" I believe is a relevant term from slimjim's present argument?

That means that 41932 (or roughly 10%) of these have bothered to fill out that gender field...

Moreover...
...

However, roughly 75% of all users who bothered to save the form in which the gender field resides have actually made a choice different from the default , which is "not specified".

I don't feel like doing the math, but it's not 90% have decided not to fill out the gender field, it's so-so% have decided not to fill out their personal information, for whatever reason

spamjim’s picture

hefox writes:

I don't feel like doing the math

But you should.

jackalope’s picture

@spamjim: You can't look at raw statistics of who did or did not fill out the old Gender field and declare that those people didn't fill it out because they "just don't care about gender." All you can accurately conclude from that available data is that for some reason, they chose not to fill out that field.

As for your other questions about the "other" selection in the present gender field, I don't actually think it's a very useful option, but it's currently the most accurate option for me. I suggested an alternative solution precisely because I think that the new Gender field, while created with good intentions and a bit more inclusive, is not terribly more useful than the old one.

Anonymous’s picture

then you still have 88% of people that just don't care about gender.

The fact there are people who don't care about gender, or other data shown in the user profile is not a reason to remove the user profile fields. So far, I don't care about where people live, but there is probably somebody that could be interested to know that, probably to know which developer can hire close to his/her work place. The fact I don't care of where a user lives doesn't mean the country field must be removed.

spamjim’s picture

kiam: The problem is exclusion. There will never be an accurate and absolute list of genders so someone will always be excluded. The country field does not exclude anyone as it does its best to list every country. If there is ever a country missing, it is no challenge to apply a definite name to that missing country.

Pick your analogies with care. A country of origin is very important (see i18n module). The topic of gender has no effect on Drupal development unless you type on your keyboard with a sexual appendage.

David_Rothstein’s picture

This issue is currently marked "postponed". So just to clarify, what is the particular thing this is postponed on? I'm not sure I follow that from the above... is the idea that it's supposed to be postponed on someone writing a better profile module for drupal.org?

Personally I'm starting to like the idea of a simple generic textarea more and more. Since that's definitely not just limited to issues of gender, it needs a separate issue. I've created one here:
#756386: Add an "About me" textarea to user profile pages (and potentially remove the Gender field in favor of it)

Anonymous’s picture

David_Rothstein: It's postponed because some action was taken, it doesn't satisfy everyone (neither the folks who want more options or more flexible UI methods to express it NOR the folks who think we shouldn't ask about gender on drupal.org). We shouldn't have another hasty move nor can we continue to comment on this issue at the rate of 10-20 comments per day and expect to reach a sensible outcome that derives from the arguments made and the merits of the issue.

On the other hand, the conversation has forked twice now, and I don't know if this issue being postponed means much to anyone. The can of worms has been opened, and now the can is being re-imagined and the worms may or may not be inside.

#756132: Change gender field to "preferred pronoun" field
#756386: Add an "About me" textarea to user profile pages (and potentially remove the Gender field in favor of it)

Garrett Albright’s picture

It's a political statement in support of a binary gender system, a statement against gender self-determination, a declaration that people who identity outside of male and female don't even get to say that, much less have people understand or respect that.…

Garrett, I assume that you are lucky enough to benefit from the dominant gender system and feel completely comfortable with the connotation and baggage that comes with whatever pronouns you prefer. I am not so lucky, nor are many others, because the binary gender system was designed to pretend that people like me do not exist and to actively silence, erase, and invalidate us when we pipe up and insist that, yes, we are here. Do you think that you are so special that you get to declare that I have no right to assert my being and identity as I see fit?

Gender is determined by genetics, not by "self-determination." You can't change your gender any more than you can change your race or blood type. Similarly, genetically speaking (and mutations aside), a "binary gender system" is a fact of life. Now if you want to buck these facts and call yourself something else, go right ahead, but demanding that everyone else call you something else is incredibly selfish.

I'm not resisting your right to assert your identity, as unconventional or even unscientific as it may be. I'm resisting you asserting your self-identity on me and complicating my life in the process.

I'm starting to side with the idea of ditching the field entirely if it's going to make people so upset.

David_Rothstein’s picture

Similarly, genetically speaking (and mutations aside), a "binary gender system" is a fact of life.

Uh, doesn't your parenthetical remark invalidate the second part of what you said? Plus, I think you are confusing gender with biological sex.

***

@bangpound: Personally I don't think those are good reasons to postpone an issue. However, it does seem that most things that are more immediately actionable have already moved to other issues, so it doesn't matter much. And I like your analogy with the worms :)

mfer’s picture

This looks like it may become a mess with definitions. The definition of gender seems to be a bit under fire.

I'll start by throwing out the definition of gender in googles dictionary.

1. A person's gender is the fact that they are male or female. N-VAR
Synonym sex
- Women are sometimes denied opportunities solely because of their gender.
- ...groups that are traditionally discriminated against on grounds of gender, colour, race, or age.

2. You can refer to all male people or all female people as a particular gender. N-COUNT
Synonym sex
- While her observations may be true about some men, they could hardly apply to the entire gender.
- ...the different abilities and skills of the two genders.

This references the definition of sex. The gist of this reads...

The two sexes are the two groups, male and female, into which people and animals are divided according to the function they have in producing young.

Where I used to work we had a problem with this. A man decided he was a woman (no surgery). He dressed and acted the part. But, was not altered to be the part. He was legally not allowed to use the ladies rest room. When we start running into these circles we run into problems and I imagine they end up being different in different countries where legalities are different (I am not a lawyer).

The gender issue is full of enough stuff to distract us from development that we should just drop the field and the drama. Unless the DA wants to take on the legalities here :)

Crell’s picture

@David: I believe Garrett's point is that gender and sex are synonymous for the vast majority of the population. The concept that they are not in a small minority of cases is still very new and (clearly) controversial.

Which is exactly why I don't think we want to go there; dropping the field makes the most sense.

arianek’s picture

Just to fill in any latecomers:

The reason the issue was postponed was indeed to reevalute what can be done with *new* functionality later, rather than attempting to overhaul it right now (and because the options have been "expanded" as the initial issue was created for).

The reason that the field shouldn't be removed completely is that it then prevents us from having any demographic data regarding gender for the Drupal community.

Anonymous’s picture

A country of origin is very important (see i18n module).

As far as I can see, country is not important from the developing side. Do you mean that you ask to every user on Drupal.org from which country they come before to talk of an issue with a project hosted on Drupal.org?

Anonymous’s picture

I've lost my cool. That is all.

spamjim’s picture

Kiam:

For statistical purposes, it is important to know the geographic origins of Drupal users. This is why it is silly for you to discount the country field in comparison to the gender field.

  • Drupal developers can utilize country info to determine/weigh the need to support users in a particular region with translations or RTL functionality.
  • DrupalCons can be organized where there is a greater population of Drupal users.
  • A developer might also take statistical country data into consideration so that they can make their site more easily function through a national firewall (ie: China, Iran).

In great contrast...

There are no physical limitations to developing or using Drupal if you are male, female or something entirely different. The only restrictions appear to be psychological. I think it is noble that webchick wants to promote women in IT. But recording and promoting how many women use Drupal is also going to record and promote how few women use Drupal. I think the majority of us prefer to be color-blind, faith-blind, politically-blind, and gender-blind.

This is why the gender field is pointless. It cannot be equated with the country field.

NancyDru’s picture

@Garret and mfer:
A) Google's dictionary is just plain wrong by even the most conservative psychological thoughts.
B) "Gender is determined by genetics" - You are correct in this, but not for the reasons you believe.

During a human being's growth, there are at least five known "switches" that must be set. If the switch is turned on, the human moves towards the male/masculine side, if not, he/she remains towards the female/feminine side. Very few people get them all thrown in the same direction. Therefore "gender" is not binary, but may in fact consist of at least 32 states.

Further, "gender" depends on the particular characteristic one is studying. One's chromosomal makeup doesn't even necessarily govern one's genital structure. It is quite easy for most people to understand that things like who one is attracted to is distinct from how one prefers to perform in the bedroom, yet both can be valid definitions of "gender." We have probably all met males who prefer to dress as women and females who prefer to dress as men. This is yet another valid definition of "gender."

Research has shown that some individuals may have developed with a brain pattern that is more normal for the opposite sex. When this disparity begins to cause the individual a great deal of discomfort, they "self-identify" as transsexuals. There is no adequate test or even true diagnosis for this condition; self-identification of "gender" in this case is the only available yard-stick.

It is an unfortunate reality of human life that those who have never suffered the trivialization of one's condition can never truly understand how hurtful it can be to be so easily dismissed by those who cannot understand. Women were once so easily dismissed - and even treated as personal property. Blacks were once dismissed as inferior to whites (and there remain people who still do). We have not learned much, it seems.

Regardless of what "the majority" believe, scientists are beginning to agree with the "gender non-conforming" that it is not a choice - it is probably genetic (or at least genetically predisposed).

I think we all would love to keep politics off of DO. But keep in mind that they will always be here. For example, as a woman, there have been some men who have trivialized my posts because of my gender. I believe most of those were men from countries where women are still of second class status. It happens. I try not to get upset, but it hurts - not just me, but the whole community.

mfer’s picture

@NancyDru 2 things....

1) The whole gender thing is very complex, political, and legal. As you point out what scientists are coming to there is still that lack of conclusion on many things. And, their analysis (like all analysis) is based on a point of view and assumptions. I am sure debates will rage on for a long time.

I pointed out the definition so we have a common starting point. When asking 10 people for the definition of gender i wonder how many different answers you will come away with? I know it will be more than one. If we are going to discuss this we need a common vocabulary. If we cannot agree on this how do we not expect this to be easily bike shed.

2) Who minimizes you for being a woman? Lets get address on profiles so we can send the Drupal Hit Squad to rough them up!

Disclaimer: For anyone wondering... #2 is a joke. It is not meant to mean there is a Drupal Hit Squad (I can neither confirm or deny ones existence) or that I condone violence. If you are still reading this click here.

Anonymous’s picture

It is an unfortunate reality of human life that those who have never suffered the trivialization of one's condition can never truly understand how hurtful it can be to be so easily dismissed by those who cannot understand. … We have not learned much, it seems.

Thank you NancyDru. These human factors are one where I feel most entitled to speak. I am not a psychologist, geneticist, neurologist or any kind of medical doctor. I do not claim to read journals or to be at the very cutting edge of research on gender.

I find it astonishing that a handful of self-proclaimed web developers and designers are spending all this time promoting the importance of rigid, western, modern gender roles while also suggesting that Drupal.org stop trying to collect this information or that Drupal.org only collect information from some people and reject the possibility that other answers exist.

Two years ago, Tamil Nadu (the 7th most populous state in India with 66.4 million people) began to

[allow] hijras, if they wish, to be recognised as “T” rather than just “M” or “F” on ration cards with the same being planned soon for passports and driving licences.

This evidence suggests that a "binary gender system" is actually not a fact of life for at least one significant group of people. I introduce these points because Drupal is international and because we are not—in the vast majority of cases—public policy makers, scientists, or bureaucrats. We are web developers and designers. Maybe we have a hobby or a professional interest in botany, too. I don't know, but I digress...

I don't think Hijras are a powerful and significant group that can influence public policy in India in a way that contradicts the needs and will of the majority of other citizens. In fact, this group is among the most disenfranchised and marginalized people in the society. Acknowledging "T" as a gender is probably a decision that was taken because real transgender identities are a fact of life, and a fair society can't justify marginalizing individuals on the basis of variations of human development over a whole population. (Read that again: variations of development over a whole population.)

Yet some here on Drupal.org think they're smarter, more literate, more thoughtful, more sensitive and more correct than a large state government in the largest democracy on Earth. The one-to-one correspondence of sex and gender has been called into question right here on Drupal.org. What more do we need? What entitles anyone to deny the testimony of others on this very issue node?

So what are we doing here on this issue?

Nobody I've asked knows why Drupal.org asks about gender. I assume that Drupal.org asks because it's almost an instinct to add a "gender" field to online profiles.

Fair censuses and surveys in our time rely on self-identification. Until 1970, the U.S. Census relied on census workers to determine the race of the people they were counting. This method was abandoned because race had historically been used as a basis for discrimination, and the biases and racist assumptions of the census workers couldn't be excluded from the census process. Self-identification means the people being counted — who are in the best position to know who they are — can give honest and correct answers.

If we want to ask so that we know more about the community but we don't want or care to know about non-male and non-female people, the survey is bad and incomplete, the gender field is broken. To quote Crell: You've got a bug. Fix it!

If we want to ask so that we know how to address each other respectfully, the gender field is one way, but people have suggested alternatives. I am willing to consider them seriously, but I admit that the gender field seems like the most reliable way. But I'm open minded.

What are we not going to do here?

I will not tolerate this:

Now if you want to buck these facts and call yourself something else, go right ahead, but demanding that everyone else call you something else is incredibly selfish.

I'm not resisting your right to assert your identity, as unconventional or even unscientific as it may be. I'm resisting you asserting your self-identity on me and complicating my life in the process.

This is unacceptable, disgusting and abusive. It has to stop. It has absolutely no place here. If you find your life complicated by this discussion, get out of it. It need not concern you.

EDIT: I used the word "disgusting," but did not justify it. Personal attacks against other folks in the community who are all here by choice is destructive and negative. It shows bad faith. There has to be some standards of decency and respect for this to work at all.

davegan’s picture

if demographic information is the primary concern, then keeping a public field is not a good option, as it's not likely to be statistically accurate. There's a good chance women and other genders are either more or less likely to enter a value for that field than men are. I could see it going either way, as women are less likely to report their gender in order to not be discriminated against, or more likely to report their gender in order to set themselves apart from the rest of the users. Where the balance lies is hard to know, but what we do know is that the vast majority of users have chosen not to enter a value here at all (90%, according to post 6*), which should be pretty telling as to the popularity of collecting the information in question.

A better option would be to make that field private, and add a note that it will only be used for demographic purposes, which would increase the likelihood that people would feel comfortable filling it out.

But the best option would be to remove this field altogether, and regularly have an optional survey, in which all information collected is anonymized.

Personally, I don't think there's a good social purpose for knowing people's gender on this site. I could see more of a use on groups.drupal.org, where some of the interaction can be of a more social nature (ie, organizing car pools to go to Drupal meetups). But on Drupal.org itself, I think that people should be judged not by the gender they identify with (or any other personal information), but by the quality that they bring in their contributions to the community. When I look to see how relevant a Drupal user is to a discussion, I look to see the projects they've contributed to, their responses in different issues, and the kind of work they do for their day job.

Garrett Albright’s picture

Similarly, genetically speaking (and mutations aside), a "binary gender system" is a fact of life.

Uh, doesn't your parenthetical remark invalidate the second part of what you said?

Only if those who think they are something other than male or female are also mutants, which I neither said nor believe.

Regardless of what "the majority" believe, scientists are beginning to agree with the "gender non-conforming" that it is not a choice - it is probably genetic (or at least genetically predisposed).

And we all know that the decisions of almighty scientists are immune to their own political predispositions and/or good old-fashioned money.

Yet some here on Drupal.org think they're smarter, more literate, more thoughtful, more sensitive and more correct than a large state government in the largest democracy on Earth.

How dare individuals bear differing opinions than that of a government! Especially a foreign one!

Fair censuses and surveys in our time rely on self-identification. Until 1970, the U.S. Census relied on census workers to determine the race of the people they were counting. This method was abandoned because race had historically been used as a basis for discrimination, and the biases and racist assumptions of the census workers couldn't be excluded from the census process. Self-identification means the people being counted — who are in the best position to know who they are — can give honest and correct answers.

Funny you bring up the census. I filled out my form for the US census last week, and I distinctly remember - even after a year of Obama walking on the Washington Monument reflecting pool - it only had two Male/Female checkboxes. And it asked me my race, too.

Personal attacks against other folks in the community who are all here by choice is destructive and negative. It shows bad faith.

There have been no personal attacks here. Just frank exchanges of opinion. As demonstrated in this post, I don't like wearing kid gloves when I see something I find to be ridiculous.

Those who are bringing out the whole "$gender !== $biological_sex" thing, let's go back to the pronoun thing. How do you decide what pronoun to use to refer to someone just by looking at them? Well, you probably do your best to determine their biological sex, since I'd imagine it'd be difficult to determine that they consider their "gender" to be. It's a snap judgment, but you're probably right almost all of the time; it's just what we animalia do. And having made that judgment, you use one pronoun or the other appropriately. Are some of you saying that there's a third (or fourth or fifth) pronoun that comes to mind from time to time? Pray tell, what are they?

heyrocker’s picture

How dare individuals bear differing opinions than that of a government! Especially a foreign one!

I am reluctant to wade into this issue, but I would just like to point out that on drupal.org there is no "foreign" government. We have members from around the globe, our software is international at its very core. To consider this place as being based on US mores alone is incorrect.

Garrett Albright’s picture

I meant the government of the Indian state bangpound was referring to.

But anyway, now having spent a few hours away from a computer, I now regret all the effort I spent in this thread, making much ado about nothing, pissing people off. It was uncharacteristic - I'm usually more aloof than that. I apologize to all who have felt offended by my ranting. In the end, what really matters here is the code and support people contribute to this community - that is the measure on which we should judge others - and every moment wasted in threads like this is at the expense of that. With that said, I've unset the "Gender" field in my profile, and also will keep my mouth shut in this thread from here on (+1 for an "Unsubscribe" feature).

Anonymous’s picture

Thanks to everyone for their contributions here.

I think Davegan has some valuable insights about privacy, field description and help text that are worth considering. The idea of a separate occasional survey also has potential.

However, this issue is postponed. We can come up with a bucket of reasons why it is or shouldn't be postponed, but here's probably the best one:

These two issues are now "blocking" this one. We can debate and discuss for weeks here, but if the gender field is removed because of what's decided in these other issues and we've been busy with back and forth on this issue, we're not taking appropriate action and should probably just review Drupal 7 patches or fix Drupal 7 critical issues instead:

#756132: Change gender field to "preferred pronoun" field
#756386: Add an "About me" textarea to user profile pages (and potentially remove the Gender field in favor of it)

I'm suggesting that proponents of the gender field — proponents of asking the question at all — need to make a case that justifies why we should ask d.o users about their gender identity. Be thoughtful and consider alternatives to asking in the profile. I've also seen suggestions that we can ask on g.d.o or conduct surveys instead. But you must answer the question: "Why do we want to ask about the gender identity of users on d.o?"

Nobody knows why we ask about gender. It may have been without any specific intention. This is the time to come up with the reason.

We've touched on some of the reasons here: (1) we want to know who is in the Drupal community, (2) we want to be able to respectfully address each other in person and in IRC, (3) it's important for some people to be able to identify themselves according to their gender identity.

Make the case for the gender field on one of these two issues. For now, this one is postponed.

mgifford’s picture

Bit late in on the thread. However I can't see why we can't just make gender an auto-complete field that allows people to put in whatever they want. It could be optional, the description could allow for options like, male, female, trans-gender, never-you-mind or other. I don't think it has to be a required field.

There is a value in asking how people identify. It's useful to know more about our community. As I tried to describe in this post acknowledging @webchick's work, there just aren't enough women involved in open source projects. I'd really like to be able to see this rise so that at some point there is parity in Drupal. @skud posted an interesting piece about standing out in the crowd at OSCON. There's a lot of work to do in this area!

I think it would be useful to collect information about languages (first and other) & abilities too. Not that people would necessarily want to divulge this information, but it could be a very useful to know more about who really makes up our community. As a white, straight, English speaking, able bodied male in North America, it's sometime important to remember that I am speaking as a person of privilege in this (and other) communities. I know there are times when it's occurred to me (often a bit late in the thread) that perhaps the person I'm arguing with may not have English as their first or even second language. Tones that may seem harsh or confusing may be simply that a person is struggling to express themselves here in my native language.

I'd be very interested in seeing stats on disability within the open source community, much like the one looking at male/female participation. I'm sure that there are more people active in the community who use AT than we are aware of. Would be an eye-opening view I think.

I want to see this community be as inclusive as possible. I think everyone here wants to see the community grow as much as it can. I'm a pretty liberal guy, but want to see the Drupal community also feel friendly for church groups here & a great deal of the world that don't share my views about gender identity issues. Just a moment ago I was looking at the Localize project looking for support for Arabic localization. I know there is Arabic participation in Drupal, but even listing trans-gender as an option is going to be controversial in much of the world.

So ya, if/when this is re-opened, please consider using autocomplete.

webchick’s picture

Because there's no way to derive meaningful data from a field where someone can say "female", "woman", "F", "wymyn", etc. At that point, we're better off with #756386: Add an "About me" textarea to user profile pages (and potentially remove the Gender field in favor of it) methinks, which could touch on not only gender but some of those other things you mention, that help provide context behind who you're talking to.

datawench’s picture

Without meaning to raise more fuss than necessary, and with the understanding that I am way, way late to a thread that I can not possibly hope to comprhensively contribute to, I nevertheless feel that, as one of the actual transgender people in question, I ought to offer my perspective as concisely as possible.

1) Thanks to all who have chosen to address the issue and who have exhibited such stamina and grace.

2) The question of penises has no bearing whatsoever on this discussion. Period.

3) Male / Female / Transgender as mutually exclusive options won't work. Transgender is generally (I emphasize generally) not considered a gender itself, but as a modifier of Male or Female. Further, a fair number of trans people - a majority, perhaps - will simply choose Male or Female and eschew Transgender altogether, having no affinity for the term and what it implies. Including the term at all is an invitation to self-outing, which could be problematic.

4) I have no patience or sympathy for any argument of the form "oh, it's all too complicated." Similar complaints arose in the sexual-minority communities when the standard acronym expanded, first to LGBT, and now to LGBTIQA. My reaction? Tough. Type a few extra letters and expand your consciousness.

5) Similarly, arguments that overwhelming majorities are not affected by this kind of thing are exactly backwards. A civil society would acknowledge and accomodate its minorities, not insist on conformity for the sake of mere convenience.

6) Personally, I think a pronoun selector makes some sense.

spamjim’s picture

datawench wrote:

2) The question of penises has no bearing whatsoever on this discussion. Period.

Thank goodness someone finally spoke up about that! I thought some of us here were wanting to check for those dangly things "Crocodile Dundee-style". Why should the presence of a penis have any bearing on how we identify ourselves or how we develop Drupal? That was an outrageous idea. Or maybe it was posed to point out some sort of related lunacy about comparing genders on a software development website.

We all recognize how gender is based on sex and self- & societal-perception of sex. It seems impossible to cut a penis off from this discussion.

jackalope’s picture

+1,000,000 to datawench's post.

arianek’s picture

spamjim: your comments are becoming extremely borderline as far as what is acceptable within the community. i'm sure you can find a way to speak your mind without going that far.

please let's all remember we're talking to real people here, no need for rudeness.

spamjim’s picture

arianek: There's no rudeness intended. Those who are actually knowledgeable of and sensitive to the topic of gender would not be offended. The discussion of a 'male member', if you prefer, has revealed the silly prejudices that can come from gender distinctions. Some of us claim that gender distinctions can help to make a more inclusive community but then they feel offended when a primary physical distinction of gender is mentioned. That seems unbalanced.

Some of us are too hung up on a generalized/diluted perception of gender that we dismiss primary distinguishing traits. Perceptions about gender go both ways. How do you recognize the gender of 'real people' that you personally encounter? How do you announce your gender to other 'real people'? There is certainly a physical element to gender or else we'd all need to wear a badge that explicitly announces our gender.

webchick’s picture

spamjim: I see several names of people here who are very, personally, knowledgeable about the topic of gender and are offended. This abrasive approach you're using here obviously isn't helping you win any minds here, and is instead making you come across as a complete troll.

If your intentions are in fact good, and I'm willing to give the benefit of the doubt here, then you clearly need to use a different tactic to get your points across. One that shows respect for others whose beliefs are different than your own, rather than insinuating they're ignorant, and dismissing their objections.

spamjim’s picture

Webchick: what you perceive as troll-like behavior is simply an opinion that differs from yours. Let's not insult each other by calling names. The two faced nature of this discussion is stunning. Some of us allege to promote a lesser-represented gender but we attach names to ourselves that are seen by many as the trivializing of a gender.

http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/wench
http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/chick

The feminist in me screams 'what the heck are you thinking with those names?!' Do we understand how society most often perceives those words?

Likewise, I am somewhat offended from your very first response to me in this thread that assumed that I was unfamiliar (specifically 'unread') on the link you posted from wikipedia about gender identity. That document, which specifically cites the 'p' word that you find abrasive, is the reason why I used the 'p' word. You introduced the topic of the 'p' word.

I'm looking at this issue in regard to a likely greater issue of gender dysphoria, which it seems no one here wants to recognize. Forcing, or at least suggesting, that individuals identify as any gender on Drupal.org - even with expanded options - can complicate, exclude or belittle those with a sexual maturation disorder. The same problem you perceive here on Drupal.org is an issue we face as real people - and would have no better way to address in physical reality.

I have never meant any disrespect to anyone here and I appreciate the discussion. I apologize if my sarcastic/ironic comments have not been fully recognized.

datawench’s picture

Jim, as someone who actually experiences gender dysphoria, I have found your comments to be ill-informed, counter-productive and childishly provocative. As the person who includes the word "wench" in her nickname, I object to your concern-trolling under the assumed banner of "feminism." I believe that in fact you do mean disrespect, and I do not accept your apology - nor, really, do I want it. Your "irony" is unwelcome and out of place. You are being disingenuous, and to no purpose.

I have no real intention of getting pulled into a gender flame war on drupal.org, just to satisfy some guy's facetious urges. Again, I thank the majority of the people in this thread who have worked hard to keep things on track and make their way through a very thorny issue.

spamjim’s picture

datawench: I now understand why we have difficulty communicating. We perceive words very differently.

'Facetious' can be used to refer to someone who claims to experience gender dysphoria, chooses a user name that refers to a female, then argues for a right to present ourselves as something other than masculine or feminine. Is it your intent to confuse fellow Drupal.org participants? Gender dysphoria need not be contagious. :)

You make this a thorny issue when you assume that I am 'some guy' and treat me differently because of your incorrect perception of my own unannounced gender. Why would you assume that because I might have a slightly different perspective that I must be of a different gender than you and be provoking a 'gender flame war'? You are demonstrating the evils of gender recognition. You've really sunk this thread to a low by specifically using gender to belittle another.

I actually think your initial points in #135 are reasonable and have posted the same previously. It is beyond reason why you think there is a war.

6) Personally, I think a pronoun selector makes some sense.

Perhaps that was the original and only intent to ask for male/female gender and some of us are thinking too deeply on this matter. No other question on the Drupal profile asks a person to reveal a complex matter that involves biology, self perception and societal perception.

jackalope’s picture

@spamjim: I have no idea where you think you get off with your interrogation of datawench's gender, your insinuation that she "claims" something that is not her experience, or your smiley-faced remark about her "intent to confuse" anyone. It is completely disrespectful, utterly out of order and does nothing but damage and poison this conversation. It also continues to demonstrate that no matter how much you want to front that you're looking out for women or people who are gender non-conforming, you're really just disrespecting us over and over again.

Yes, people are making assumptions about your "unannounced gender," but recognize that it's because you're coming off as entitled, privileged, and completely insensitive to the issues being raised here. When datawench refers to you as "some guy," it's because your posts reek of privilege. So we can only assume that you are gender privileged. Whether you actually are or not, you should check yourself and think about why people are perceiving you and responding to you in this way.

Crell’s picture

As I read spamjim's comments, I understand them to be echoing what others have said in this thread: That gender-identity, however you want to slice it, is not relevant to the question of software development. As I noted earlier, I moderate this entire thread as -1 Off Topic. :-)

I believe it also shows something else I noted earlier: That we are making a value judgment here that "all gender identities are fluid and equal" is an inherently superior viewpoint than "gender is tightly coupled to biological sex, and that's a good thing". That is not a universally held viewpoint, even within our largely left-leaning community. And when someone tries to disagree with that value judgment, people take offense accuse someone of deliberate trolling and intent to insult, something that I don't see here.

This is quite simply not a debate I believe we should be getting into here. (I am no stranger to gender politics debates.)

The only place where another person's sex, gender, or gender identity are relevant in this context is 1) If I'm trying to hit on you or 2) knowing whether to greet you in IRC as "Dude!" or "Dudette!" I tend not to hit on people on Drupal.org, so that leaves the second as the only relevant criteria. The (potentially complex, potentially quite simple) reasons you prefer to be greeted as "Dude!" or "Dudette!" is irrelevant.

spamjim’s picture

So we can only assume that you are gender privileged.

Jackaponte, your outrageous admission of your own gender bias (equating gender with entitlement and privilege that you think I have or to which I belong) is the exact reason why gender should not be a topic here. You are making gender distinction a wedge between participants on Drupal.org. Can't you be mature enough to recognize that I might be the exact same gender as you but have a varied concept of what is better for the community?

datawench’s picture

Crell:

As I read spamjim's comments I see a dishonest effort to play infantile games with other peoples' worldviews.

I agree that the value judgment you observe is implicit and problematic. Removing the gender field would certainly moot the whole thing, though I do still see some utility in community demographics and up-front pronoun specification.

I call everyone Dude, regardless of gender.

mfer’s picture

This is quickly turning into an issue about politics. I agree with Crell on this. Moving forward we either need to kill this thread (as in lock comments) or have some sort of action.

Since this is an opt-in question the statistical/polling of the data is fairly useless. If we are looking to pull meaningful statistical data on the topic we should consider some other method.

Another use is political/idealistic. That is in promoting or dismissing a point of view. This is not what d.o is about. It is about the drupal software. d.o should not try to take on all the angles that come with opening these doors. What doors are opened and others closed will open up questions as well. All around we should stay away from this stuff.

So, the thing I can see value in is addressing someone as "Dude!" or "Dudette!" in irc or for hitting on others. Since I'm married and never did try to pick up anyone in irc I see the latter as irrelevant.

If we agree to pursue this then #756132: Change gender field to "preferred pronoun" field or #756386: Add an "About me" textarea to user profile pages (and potentially remove the Gender field in favor of it) should be pursued and discussion here nixed. To stop flame wars I'd suggest locking this issue.

Are there any other actionable alternatives? If not, let's lock this thread and move on to something actionable from here.

webchick’s picture

Ah, ok. Looks like spamjim has a history of this kind of behaviour. I think we can safely ignore him now, and get back to our regularly scheduled discussion.

spamjim, I'm going to kindly ask you to refrain from posting to this thread anymore, as you're clearly upsetting people. If it continues, then I'm going to unkindly ask you, and recommend sterner measures.

[Edit: Link removed at spamjim's request.]

spamjim’s picture

Webchick: I'm going to kindly ask that you refrain from posting misinformation about a fellow user in a Drupal issue thread. That post is grossly out of context and the user posting that misinformation was kicked from that forum for abuse. That poster was also faced with legal action for libel. I'm sure you understand what libel is and can clean up your post here. I'm not here to disrupt a thread. I'm here to speak what others have spoken, as most recently recognized by Crell.

gdemet’s picture

I think the bottom line here is that this conversation has drifted well afield of its original topic, and it seems unlikely to go anywhere productive at this point. +1 for locking the thread.

jackalope’s picture

+1 for locking the thread because it's not going anywhere productive.

webchick’s picture

Ok. Thread locked. We'll leave the field as-is for now.

webchick’s picture

Status: Postponed » Closed (fixed)