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Falsehoods Programmers Believe About Gender
  1. There are two and only two genders.
  2. Okay, then there are two and only two biological genders.
  3. Gender is determined solely by biology.
  4. Okay, it’s mostly determined by biology, right?
  5. Please tell me it’s determined by DNA.
  6. Gender can be reliably determined through visual means. After all, no man would ever wear a burka.
  7. Once gender is set, it never changes.
  8. Even if the gender can change, it will only change from the one value to the other value.
  9. Only one gender can be “active” at the same time.
  10. We’re tracking gender now, so we’ve always tracked it.
  11. I only need to be concerned with human gender.


xburgos commented Mar 16, 2016

How can somebody have 2 genders simultaneously? Unless you're talking about having biological, perceived and assumed, but still, within those, you can't have more than 1.

zyphlar commented Jun 25, 2016

I had to write a medical system similar to MyFitnessPal that estimated metabolic targets based on gender, since there are measurable differences in metabolism between men and women -- unfortunately I had to give up and use a binary, but I did try to allow for it being the gender your metabolism is most aligned with, and give each user the opportunity to change it instead of leaving it up to the doctor. Turns out the USDA doesn't really have much/any data on trans/intersex metabolism, which I think should change. (Opportunity for original research/reporting?) My best guess would have been to try and interpolate those values somehow (on a scale from 0-100 how masculine is your metabolism?) but given how complex the calculations already were and how approximate the results already were I just had to call it quits, name the field as best I could, and move on. 😞

jensreu commented Oct 19, 2016

You should add "people are comfortable telling you what gender they belong to" - here it's fairly common (depending on social strata etc etc) to give "other" or "Not Disclosed" if the option is available because for some it's considered an inconsiderate question. I am a man, biologically, socially, etc. But I fill in gender as "other" or "Not Disclosed" if available

AndyOGo commented Oct 20, 2016

Actually 1) is not a falsehood. Objectively there are only male and female.
I would not count all the possible sexual perversions existing as gender, it's just an irrational creation it's not a fact.

@AndyOGo : so to you, people described in this page are perverts somehow? Or at least, they should not count?

katef commented Oct 25, 2016

@AndyOGo When you say "objectively", I think you're talking about sex, whereas this list is about gender. And even for sex, that's wrong.

ISO has a standard for "human sexes". It's not complete by any means, but it does have more than two values.

dhasenan commented Nov 5, 2016

  1. My system needs to care about users' gender.
  2. Everyone has a gender.

When will we have an organization that maintains an exhaustive list and numbered code for genders, and can tell us which ones are and aren't just different words for the same thing and what the differences are between them, and that we can refer people to who don't feel represented? We could call it the Unigender Consortium.

Oh my God. This is Github, not Tumblr.

Sex is biological and sometimes referred to as 'gender'.
Gender identity is a different thing but is also referred to as 'gender'.
In both cases there are more than two.
This information comes from medical practice, not Tumblr.

Facebook do it best, they let you choose some text that describes your gender, as it doesn't matter in any context really outside of health services where it is confidential. You don't need an ID field to associate with it, you just need a text field.

Other is not a good term, as it suggests the group who don't fit into what you perceive as common are somehow less valuable (the term for this is 'othering' and in it's worst form it causes ethnic cleansing amongst other things).

lewisje commented Jan 17, 2017

@Pr0methean, the ISO and IEC may be up to the job, and I know that the Library of Congress has some references; I also found this informative classification of the infamous "list of 58 gender options" from that story that ABC (United States) ran when Facebook was first opening up its options for user-specified gender.

Pds314 commented Mar 14, 2017

"I only need to be concerned with human gender."

This is true for any nonhuman besides possibly AI, aliens, or maybe a handful of animals that can speak. If we need to enter gender information for a cat, we have no way of knowing if the cat has any gender at all.
Maybe it sees itself as female.
Maybe male.
Maybe both, neither, or something else entirely.
Maybe it switches around on a daily basis, or maybe it just sees itself as a cat or even just as itself.
Or maybe a cat is not sophisticated enough to even have a self-concept, so talking about gender makes no sense.

The problem is, cats can't speak. They can't write. They can't communicate to us with any degree of precision. That's why it only makes sense to talk about biological sex of cats, not the gender. The same is true of all other nonhuman entities I've ever heard of. Now sure, AI or aliens or exceptionally-educated chimpanzees might have meaningful distinctions here, but the point is, if it can't answer questions, we don't care about its gender because it cannot be determined.

thany commented May 3, 2017

  1. I can infer a corresponding pronoun when a user's gender is known.

std46 commented Sep 14, 2017

I identify as the GitHub CEO, but can't log in. Unfortunately the bigots at GitHub don't recognize me :'(
Either way. Once LGBTQGitHubCEOs are finally recognized and have full rights, I'm banning everyone in this thread.

ur source is your own writing.

why even include a source?

also who fucking cares besides people living in fairytale land?

thomasjwebb commented Sep 20, 2017

Some other ones that are good to add:

  • A person has a single, legal gender
  • Passports (and birth certificates, and driver's licenses) only have two sexes
  • A person's birth certificate agrees with their passport or driver's license as to their gender
  • There are only two types of genitalia, corresponding to birth assignment
  • Okay, but birth assignment corresponds to genitalia at birth, right?
  • Everyone knows what their gender on their birth certificate is
  • Only men have Y-linked diseases
  • Chromosomes correspond to genitalia at birth
  • There are only two possible chromosome combinations

nukeop commented Sep 20, 2017

nice list of truths about 'gender'

nukeop commented Sep 20, 2017

if this was a list of falsehoods some people believe, it would include statements such as:

  • making up a gender means it's real
  • mayonnaise is a gender
  • i can change biology using willpower

what's this propaganda doing on github of all places btw?

SwiftLawnGnome commented Sep 21, 2017

You forgot

  • The way that I feel/am is exactly identical to how every single other person feels/is that shares certain biological characteristics which have historically been associated with one of exactly two specific states of being/feeling

That sounds empirically valid!

This is not a list a falsehoods, though. It's simply queer propaganda.

Jnnz commented Oct 12, 2017


lutoma commented Oct 13, 2017

Great list, thanks. It's also very telling that this list was written by a developer who has been on Github for years and has contributed to many open source projects, but the comments immediately dismissing it are dudes who mostly have no contributions and joined Github much more recently (not even 3 weeks ago in one case…).

The reason this looks like alt-sex propaganda is that very few of these 'myths' have to do with programming. Whether one considers non-biological gender valid or dysfunctional, programmers must be to deal with entities - organizations, governments, whatever - that exclusively accept birth-assigned biological gender, and entities that allow changeable or multiple gender, and/or fluid lists of possible genders. It's gone so far it's hard to consider it sane, but we have to deal with it.

Just because we don't bother to dump code on github doesn't mean we don't have to deal with gender/sex fields in our programming. There is life outside of your little universe. M, F, null, Not disclosed. I worked on a system that default to M, so secretaries constantly left it that way even for females.

Good list, my main takeaway is to question the need to save a users gender in the first place; its something that I tend to see as a requirement and have never really questioned it. After reading this I challenged the requirement on my current project and its been dropped entirely :neckbeard: Work smarter, not harder right? :trollface:

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