Flexible self-identification of gender, race,and pronouns

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References for Supporting diversity with a new approach to software

Who needs it the most? Trans and gender-diverse people, anybody who doesn’t fit into male/female binary, multiracial people, people whose race isn't on the usual short-lists

Who else benefits? People who don’t want to unintentionally use the wrong pronouns for somebody

High-level recommendations

  • Allow arbitrary text (rather than restricting people to a fixed list) for gender, race, and other information
  • Allow multiple choices; e.g., somebody who’s multiracial may be white, black
  • Allow people to decline to answer, or to limit the visibility of their response
  • Consider collecting pronouns instead of gender
  • Be careful about your terminology
    • If there are easier ways to select from a short list of more-common choices, do not use the word “other” as a way of getting to the more flexible specification.
    • Avoid the term "preferred name" (or "preferred pronouns").

OS Bridge sessions

More Than Binary: Inclusive Gender Collection and You, Anne DeCusatis (2016)

Male/Female/Othered: Implementing Gender-Inclusiveness in User Data Collection, Finn Harker and Jonathan Ellis (2015)


Best Practices for Collecting Names, Gender and Pronouns, by TJ Warfield from TRANSform Tech, and Gender-inclusive form design, by Stephanie Slattery from a Clique Studios lightning talk event, are good short overviews.

Web Forms: When Someone's Gender is Your Business, Jennifer Tu, OS Feels 2016, looks at situations like insurance where you do have to collect gender information

5 Simple Steps for Trans-Inclusive Data, Avory Faucette, AlterConf DC 2016

Open Gender Project, creating a simple API and library.

Disalienation: Why Gender is a Text Field on Diaspora, Sarah Mei, 2010

Genders and Drop-down Menus (2008) and Designing a Better Drop-Down Menu for Gender (2009), Sarah Dopp on Dopp Juice.

Why sharing gender pronouns at work matters, by Alexis Croswell on the Culture Amp blog, is a good overview and FAQ.

Stop Mapping Names to Gender, by Oliver Keyes on Aw, R, No, is a short guide to why name-gender mappings produce incorrect results, are morally horrifying, and are usually unnecessary.

The Case Against Drop-down Identities, by Christine on Smarterware, looks at Google Profiles

Two-Question Method for Assessing Gender Categories in the Social and Medical Sciences, by Charlotte Chuck Tate , Jay N. Ledbetter & Cris P. Youssef in The Journal of Sex Research evaluates "a method of asking two separate questions (i.e., one for current identity and another for birth-assigned category), with response options specific to each."