see #752452: Expand options in the "Gender" profile field for the backstory

In short: I refuse to make a playground for political games of any sort.

Apparently, the existence of a gender field with the usual "man/woman" option is political as is the addition of "transsexual" or "other" to such a field (see the above issue for the reasoning).

From this follows that the field should be either removed or it should be converted to a a "how do I want to be addressed" field, since this seems to be the most popular use case of this field.


Anonymous’s picture

Are there any other sites that ask users which gendered pronoun suits them? If so, how does this impact usage by non-native speakers who aren't fluent? (These are the concerns that I already raised on the previous issue.)

I also like a bit of history. Does anyone know why we ask about gender in the profile?’s picture

Maybe use a Mr/Mrs/Ms selector instead?

People who don't understand it will simply leave it empty. The field is not on the registration form after all.

Michelle’s picture

Maybe an example, so they can pick the sentence that looks right?

When referring to me, please use:
He said...
She said...
[username] said...

If you want to avoid people going "wtf?" perhaps a simple introductory sentence such as, "To be respectful of all gender variations, we are asking instead for people to identify how they would like others to refer to them in conversation."

Though that may be too long of a sentence for non native English speakers.


kiamlaluno’s picture

+1 for Michelle proposal. The sentence doesn't seem too long to me; I would get non native speakers (in which I am included) have more problems with short sentences (or phrases) than longer sentences.

laura s’s picture

The challenge here, as I see it, is that you not only have cultural challenges, you also have class and profession challenges. "Mr." is going to be a de facto insult to a man who is a medical doctor or university professor, for example. Are we going to have a drop-down that includes "Baron" and "Shaikh" and "Sister" and "Mahatma" and so on?

Dave Reid’s picture

I think this would probably be more political than a gender field.

webchick’s picture

Yeah, I kind of agree with Dave Reid. IMO this will just make people scratch their heads and go "Why don't they just ask my gender?" Since the author advocating for this change is someone against d.o being involved in politics, I'm not sure that drawing more attention to this field serves that end. bangpound's points here and in the other issue about non-native speakers and usability are also worth looking into.

But, subscribing to see how this discussion plays out.

hefox’s picture

I don't politically or deeply, but I don't see the advantages to this, as it presents the same issues in not being able to cover everyone, and either a need for data migration or loose all the previous values. Ie, "Ms/Mrs/Mr"/"He/She" is nearly the same as "Male/Female". [username] is not necessarily what people would be preferred to be called if not called he or she.

If there was to be a data migration, that would the similar issues too; as you'd have to assert that male => he and female => she, which is not necessarily the case, though is the likely case.

(Just to clarify, the third option considered is "Transgender", not "Transsexual;" I'm not sure transsexual was mentioned as an option yet in it, as transgender covers transsexual, [].)’s picture

@webchick: I am trying hard to remember if I've ever seen a "gender" field on a non-.US website. I can't (it may just tell that my memory is hazy)

@all: I've found a nice alternative on the site of a German newspaper:

It roughly translates as "requested form of address" and has the options: "Given name + Surname", "Loginname", "Given name", "Surname". In addition to a "Salutation" field and a lengthy field of honorifics. :D

You can see it here:

(most people would describe that paper as liberal to left-leaning, btw)

Another newspaper (very left) has no such field altogether:

(You can see they are progressive: they use a capital I in words to indicate they mean both men and woman.)

A more conservative paper has Herr/Frau and a textfield for Titel

I am not really suggesting any of these for d.o, I just want to show that what some people assume as a given is a no-no elsewhere.

(Don't even bother asking for a "race" field)

Crell’s picture

Any change to the current field involves data migration and it won't be perfect. That includes the change already (prematurely?) made as it didn't automatically move people from male/female to transgender or other if they so chose. Male => He / Female => She is a perfectly reasonable guess that will be accurate in the 99% case, and the other 1% is perfectly capable of changing a select box. So I really don't see data migration as an issue worth considering either way.

Anonymous’s picture


I'm agreeing with and validating your concerns that questions about gender are inappropriate in some contexts and cultures. The German context in particular is one where I defer to you.

The distinction I see though is that newspaper web sites are not the foundation of a community in the same way that is the foundation of the Drupal community. This may not be an important distinction but it's one I see.

In America, I think these questions are asked on corporate newspaper sites for the purposes of marketing and advertising to users on the basis of their declared gender, and this is not an issue for Do you think privacy laws and personal information use laws are also a factor in non-community sites in Germany avoiding questions about gender? Or do you think culture plays a more significant role?

I concur that asking about race on is not an option. Race is not a workable international/transcultural classification scheme. Asking people about their race would be vigorously opposed by me for several reasons. However, gender distinctions appear to exist everywhere. They are not uniform or consistent, but gender distinctions are present in every culture.

(This entire comment may be digression. My apologies if that's the case.)

jackalope’s picture

In short: I refuse to make a playground for political games of any sort.

@killes: This statement is incredibly dismissive, belittling, and loaded with privilege. People who are requesting that more gender identities be recognized in profiles are not trying to play political games; they are seeking inclusion and visibility for people who are currently rendered invisible.

As to the substance of this topic itself:

If the community decides that it wants a way to know how to refer to members using English pronouns, then a "preferred pronoun" text field is sufficient and in fact necessary. It is not possible to correctly assess preferred pronouns for everyone using a gender identity field of any sort.

By the same token, if the community wants to track demographic statistics around gender identity, a preferred pronoun field falls completely short. Gender identity and preferred pronouns do not correlate exactly or neatly and any attempt to render information on preferred pronouns into accurate demographic information about gender on would be flawed from the start.

David_Rothstein’s picture

Anonymous’s picture

I want to have some time to formulate a coherent argument on this issue. Responding piece by piece, back and forth doesn't really suit me or the importance of this topic. I will take time to write up something and post it as soon as it's ready. Thanks to everyone for patience and understanding. Cheers.

mfer’s picture

What is the purpose of the data collected by the field? Without knowing the purpose of the field coming up with the best setup will be difficult.

For example, if it is to collect statistics on d.o users I would argue that opt-in stats are not going to be useful. There will be a high +/- on the result because of the lack of opt-in.

Is it for other users to identity the proper pronoun? That would be different and you would need a different list.

So, what is the purpose of the field?

arianek’s picture


chachasikes’s picture


spamjim’s picture

jackaponte wrote:

@killes: This statement is incredibly dismissive, belittling, and loaded with privilege. People who are requesting that more gender identities be recognized in profiles are not trying to play political games; they are seeking inclusion and visibility for people who are currently rendered invisible.

There are a couple political games at play here. There is nothing dismissive in recognizing them.

A political game appears when two people who consider themselves neither male nor female respectfully argue which words define them.

Webchick, the person who started the 'gender' issue/topic, exhibited pretty clear political intent. Webchick clearly wants to promote women in Drupal. (I support Webchick for seeking gender equality - I just cannot see how the benefits of the gender field outweigh the problems).

arianek’s picture

after further vote would be to keep the gender field as is. though i think a pronoun field is probably more practical, it really can't be as fine grained as a gender field.

and to reiterate i also disagree with removing the gender field - mainly based on the issue of demographic info, which i do value. (i do support the idea of providing an option to hide the field from public if one wants to only provide demographic info but not publicly state their gender.)

Michelle’s picture

For that, someone could see if is d.o worthy.

Michelle’s picture

@bangpoung: I looked at newspapers because that was the first idea I had. I welcome suggestions on what other kind of websites to look at..

@Michelle: I don't really want to complicate the profile setup.

I suggest that those who want to collect demographic data create periodic polls.

arianek’s picture

Status: Active » Fixed

The field currently has:

- male
- female
- transgender
- other

I'm going to mark this as fixed, as it's been improved. If anyone wants to reopen, feel free.

Status: Fixed » Closed (fixed)

Automatically closed -- issue fixed for 2 weeks with no activity.