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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.


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Well this is old af, but I'm gonna put a data science perspective in. Gender is a concept with multiple senses, and you need to be clear which one you are asking users for when collecting that information, as well as clear what the end use case is. You can do that because you're trying to avoid the nonbinary death commandos of Tumblr, or you can do it because you are trying to build a more precise model.

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Qqwy commented Jun 20, 2018

  • Biological gender, Legal gender and the gender signifying what pronoun should be used for a user are all one and the same thing.

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spilth commented Aug 21, 2018

  • Male should come before Female in forms

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MarjaE2 commented Oct 25, 2018

  • If gender varies between 2+ databases, this should be flagged as a no-match. (This has implications for access to work, healthcare, and voting, among other things.)

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jibal commented Nov 30, 2018

Even though this is about assumptions that programmers should not make, and not about "politics", it's no surprise that quite a few parochial reactionaries made it about their political ideology rather than about facts. (And these folks like to talk about "biology" and what's "objective" while making it clear that they know nearly nothing about biology or the scientifically objective mode of thinking that puts data first. Really these bigots are a bunch of emo snowflakes.)

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topr commented Dec 12, 2018


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.

Fact is just an instrument of oppression in the radical constructivists view ¯\_(ツ)_/¯


Or at least, they should not count?

Calling perverts is rather wrong and surely rude but from an engineer/system designer point of view cost of increased complexity to handle insignificant edge cases quite likely justifies 'not counting' them in great majority of cases (systems).
Might be sad for some but true for those who pay for the system or maintain it.


There are only two possible chromosome combinations

Only two chromosome but more possible combinations.
For instance: Klinefelter syndrome with an extra one XXY or XXY and more.

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12. "Gender" and "sex" are the same thing.

That should be the first. After that, there is no need to discuss something more. I personally misunderstood it, because in Russian we mostly think about sex, telling gender. That is a real problem.

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Holy cow this github thread is overrun by homophobic people.

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sboosali commented Apr 5, 2019

the title: Falsehoods Programmers Believe About Gender

this thread: "I'm a programmer." States a falsehood about gender.

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luismasuelli commented Jun 26, 2019

  1. No new genders can be further invented.

That goes in topic with: Genders do not actually exist, since there are several factors, as enumerated. If genders exist, an allegedly exhaustive list would be a potential source of discrimination against new and personal expressions. Said this, the currently known list of 112 gender variations (which can be applied to male/female, except those that are in the exact middle) has a lot of funny examples of these expressions that remind us of Sakura Card Captor or something like. Say I want a new gender because I don't fit even inside "helio-" variants (!!!), the list would not be exhaustive.

Gender is a personal manifestation sourced in a mix of factors and, said this, there is a quite wide range as one per person (at least, who asks themselves about). This is because our society is quite diverse.

So, when you have that kind of explosion principle, solely depending on your business model you fall back to average user expectations:

  • Biological sex (which isn't binary, let's say, although there's a minority out there).
  • Mating preferences / sexual orientation.

Gender Ideology (which IT IS - despite the fact I totally support it) is a self-collapsing system that only serves to bring the individual into the social scene on its own. It is totally useless as a category system, but then you fall back to the other two attributes, and let the users in your community do the rest of the job.

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most websites only need one question:

How would you like to be addressed?

  • male
  • female
  • neutral

With added caveat if one choose neutral:

We will try to do our best, but we are working on internazionalizing our app / web-site and not in all languages is possible to do so. In this case would you be more confortagle with?

  • male
  • female
  • please make sure I never select one of those languages, I like neutrality of english

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yuwash commented Nov 23, 2019

Better make the purpose of the question clear:

Do you want our offers be gendered?

  • It doesn’t matter. Just give me the best/cheapest offer (10 % discount for the first month!)
  • Yes, please make it conform to the traditional female gender
  • Yes, please make it conform to the traditional male gender
  • No, please show me your certified gender-neutral offers (#2019-98765)
  • Let me customize my preferences in the next step

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JwanMan commented Sep 8, 2020

What disgusts me is the fact that this whole thing still exists and people still use


platform to discuss fucking politics.

What disgusts me is the fact that so many people still think that this is about politics or ideology.

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greymont commented Sep 9, 2020

12. "Gender" and "sex" are the same thing.

This should definitely be added!

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Going out of your way to push your personal gender binary beliefs is a lot more ideological than building user-centric systems that cater to the actual needs and wants of the people using your product. Lists like this are great reminders to build systems for people, not only people like yourself.

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garbados commented Oct 6, 2020

Hey folks,

This thread had become a bit of a cesspool so I went through and deleted comments I thought were shitty. Censorship? You betcha, bigots! Sorry you had to learn this way but everything is political and refusing to engage with those politics is a form of privilege 🙃

If you are in a position to consider writing forms about gender, consider the Hall of Gender Forms.

As developers, as people doing the work of software, it is our responsibility to refuse to perform unethical labor, and to consider the ethics of our acts as deeply as we can. If your boss or workplace asks you to build discriminatory or otherwise harmful systems, you have an obligation to refuse. Take responsibility for the consequences of your actions and confront your inevitable ignorance.

Have a good one,

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rileylev commented Oct 13, 2020

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Well, some time ago I found a way to collapse long lists into groups of genders instead, after diving into the list of 112 gender variants. It was like:

cis-male, cis-female, bi-gender (static), trans-male, trans-female, agender, demi-male, demi-female, demi-bi, fluid-male, fluid-female, fluid-bi, pan-gender (self-identifying with all of them), pan-gender-fluid, unidentified (due to not knowing, not being sure, not being able, or refusing to self-identify), or refusing to answer (which is not the same as answering that one's gender identification is refusing to self-identify).

hm cis-(fe)male separate from trans-(fe)male is meh :/
People often use it to make us "something different" than normal. It's good it's cis-* and not just *, but still ._.
Also, this would force people to disclose they are trans - or lie to the form

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Otherwise, any weird request may appear

I don't know the context of your work so I can't say to what effect you were categorizing genders. Maybe it was in some backend spreadsheet, used only for research. I can understand that. But if you put a form in front of me that asks if my gender is "trans-female" but not "female" I'm going to feel exposed, even offended. Generally speaking, no one has a right to know whether someone is transgender. In a dangerous world, it's dangerous information. It is not enough to tell trans people, "Well, alternatively you can just tell me nothing." Are our options really just to be othered or to be erased?

This is the point of the Hall of Gender Forms: that people's self-expression will often look like "any weird request", but that doesn't diminish the importance of respecting it.

I do not believe software has much business asking about gender, and that in those cases where software has any such business it should be as permissive with input as possible, and only do categorization after data entry.

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garbados commented Nov 18, 2020

you must be aware that "Male" or "Female" are cis by antonomasia

in fact, in many jurisdictions concealing the identity may become fraud depending on the interaction type

nope, i'm done. have a nice life.

from here on out, i will delete all comments. if you want your own list of falsehoods, fork the gist. this is not a place for discussion.

EDIT: I have decided not to delete comments as I do not actually care about this cesspool, except that Scott Adams-types have a bizarre and amusing tendency to tell on themselves in here.

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RyanDoesMath commented Jul 29, 2022

I only need to be concerned with human gender.

Made me think of this, haha.

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A person has a single, legal gender

  • A person knows what their legal sex/gender is (I currently do not know what mine is in the UK, where I live)

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GBirkel commented Feb 2, 2023

Here's another falsehood to add:

  • The design requirement forcing a user to specify gender in the first place should not be questioned.

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norwd commented Feb 25, 2023


  • The system I am working with will have only one Gender enum
  • Ok, then all the Gender enums will have the same genders
  • Ok, then all the Gender enums will have Male and Female

One system I work on has no fewer than six different Gender enum types, only some of which are for people, the rest are for Tournament systems, e.g. is this a Men’s competition, Women’s, or both.

Which leads to another falsehood:

  • All Gender enums that have Female mean the same thing and can be compared freely.

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As I noted in my earlier comment (and as others have too), even from a strictly legal standpoint, that's not actually the case. There isn't a single, coherent legal gender for all people. For example, in the US your birth certificate, your passport, your driver's license could each say different things and the procedures to change each are different. All states allow changing gender on your driver's license, but many don't allow changing the birth certificate. Some states allow non-binary option (X instead of M or F) for driver's license. The federal government allows changing the gender on the passport and the procedures is easier than some conservative states have for changing driver's license but doesn't allow third option (like some other countries do, including Malta and Bangladesh). Transgender children will sometimes be in the public school system as their gender but won't have changed their legal gender anywhere else as they are minors and can't do so. So even from a government perspective, it's not clear cut and actually generally not a simple matter of birth assignment. Even your birth certificate could say something different if you had it changed.

So this isn't just an ideological thing like some people try to make it - if you as a programmer assume that a record from two different databases must not be referring to the same individual simply because the two databases have different gender markers, you are making a bad assumption.

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"this isn't political"
"this isn't ideology"

what if i told you that everything is political and critically structuring ideas is good actually?

my existence is political. all ethics emerge from ideology. stop fearing these words just because fools use them like bludgeons.

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GBirkel commented Feb 27, 2023


The reason this looks like alt-sex propaganda is that very few of these 'myths' have to do with programming. ...

Dang. I never thought I'd see the day when a CS lecturer at Boston U, clearly old enough to know better, would start throwing around inane terms like "alt-sex propaganda", as if they were some paranoid villager somewhere in the hinterlands of a totalitarian kleptocracy.

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ryancdotorg commented Feb 27, 2023


but many don't allow changing the birth certificate.

Almost all do, there are only a handful that do not.

The federal government allows changing the gender on the passport and the procedures is easier than some conservative states have for changing driver's license but doesn't allow third option

The US federal government opened up applications for passports with X as the sex marker to the general public on April 11th 2022. They are also now issuing cards for trusted traveler programs (e.g. Global Entry, Nexus, Sentri) with X as the gender marker as well.

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