Wednesday 12 October 2011

While I'm on the Subject of Arbitrary Classifications...

Does it bug anyone else, or just me? Almost every time I'm required  to fill in personal information on a form, I'm asked to proffer my 'gender.' Well, I don't really fit neatly in any such category as far as I know. I'm in touch with my feminine side, but the plumbing is male, and the orientation is straight. Something tells me they're not really interested in all that. I'm guessing, mind you. It seems to me that what they really want to know is my sex. Otherwise, why would they only give me two choices? 
     I've come up with a few hypotheses. Some time ago, a bright liberal-minded middle-management type thought it would be politically correct to switch from asking about sex to enquiring as to one's gender. Of course, that well-meaning civil servant had no way of telling the difference between their [clears throat] and a hole in the ground!
     A conservative middle-management civil servant, thinking that the word 'sex' didn't reflect the proper 'family values' came up with the idea of asking for gender because, being well educated they remember hearing in a first-year anthropology class that 'gender' was the new 'sex.'
     It seems to me that there are only two possible fixes.
     One. Go back to asking for 'sex.'
     Two. Change the choices to 'masculine' and 'feminine,' wait for the rioting to subside, and go back to asking for 'sex.'

     Anyone have a better idea?


  1. I believe that in Australia we can now have more choices on our passports. I always thought that it was legal to not declare such information, but online databases have got clever and do not let you go to the next screen unless you fill in all the requisite information.

  2. yes - the link is

    "A passport may be issued to sex and gender diverse applicants in M (male), F (female) or X (indeterminate/unspecified/intersex). "



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