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deviantART: Not for Deviants?
November 4, 2010 4:20 AM   Subscribe

deviantART: Not for Deviants?
posted by Zarkonnen (266 comments total) 14 users marked this as a favorite

 
what?
posted by facetious at 4:33 AM on November 4, 2010


On the one hand, it's weird that DA is being so stubborn.

On the other hand, it is their site, to do with as they please.

But really, it just sounds stupid on their part. I'm not fan of people sub categorizing their gender into micro niches, but really who am I to say people can't be what they want. It's no skin off my nose if the biologically born person next door what's to call themselves a Saturnian and claim there's a 5th sex descended from Cylons and Jabba the Hutt, as long as they're not hurting anyone else.
posted by nomadicink at 4:35 AM on November 4, 2010 [6 favorites]


Why is it so vitally important to DeviantArt that users specify a gender? What do they intend to do with this information anyway?
posted by aeschenkarnos at 4:35 AM on November 4, 2010 [26 favorites]


I love a good righteous pile-on early in the morning. Bug report submitted. And as to how a site can be inclusive of all gender identities, I have only this to say: "This is free-form, go nuts."
posted by Faint of Butt at 4:40 AM on November 4, 2010 [27 favorites]


Interesting read, not sure how I feel about it. On the axis of discrimination, from not being able to put a setting into a social networking page, to not being able to get a job, to being beaten or murdered, I'm not sure this is as bad a situation as it could be. Also, once someone starts haranguing tech support about their grammar skills, that raises my troll alert just a bit.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 4:41 AM on November 4, 2010 [5 favorites]


Have just sent them a policy support request with some helpful pointers...

Dear deviantART team: I feel that your recent removal of the option to not specify your gender in your profile stems from some confusion on your part about three different concepts: sex, gender, and sexual orientation. These exist in human beings in all kind of combinations, which is why "male" and "female" are insufficient options.

Sex: Whether you have male or female reproductive organs. Most people are born with one or the other, but some are born as neuter, with no defined sex organs, or as intersex, with sex organs somewhere between the male and female. Hermaphrodites are creatures with both male and female sex organs, such as snails. There are no human hermaphrodites.

Gender: A person's self-image as male, female, something in-between, or neither. Seeing yourself as neither male nor female doesn't mean you see yourself as neuter, it can simply mean you find the whole concept a bit confusing, like living in a city where everyone else supports one football team or the other, while you only really care about basketball. Can be different from a person's sex. Some people, but not all, upon discovering that their gender does not match their sex, get surgery to change this.

Sexual orientation: What sex you are attracted to. Can be different again from a person's sex and gender.

In summary, there is a great deal of biological and psychological diversity in humanity. You generally celebrate this diversity on your site - why not in peoples' profiles?

posted by Zarkonnen at 4:42 AM on November 4, 2010 [29 favorites]


And as to how a site can be inclusive of all gender identities, I have only this to say: "This is free-form, go nuts."

Yeah, but for status our only options are "single, taken, open or blank". That's always struck me as odd.
posted by nomadicink at 4:43 AM on November 4, 2010 [2 favorites]


Alternate question: "Would you like to get ads about dieting and weight loss, or the Axe Detailer?"

(I don't actually know what gender-targeted advertising is on DeviantArt, though I know people who use it. But that is what this is about.)
posted by Jeanne at 4:43 AM on November 4, 2010 [25 favorites]


Mansplained, heh.
posted by fullerine at 4:46 AM on November 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


This post makes me question the meaning of Spirit Day.
posted by twoleftfeet at 4:48 AM on November 4, 2010 [2 favorites]


Good point, nomadicink. MeFi has a robust contacts system, so the status dropdown seems a bit vestigial at this point. It should be free-form as well.

And for what it's worth, here's what I sent: "The "Gender" dropdown menu on the Profile screen contains only two options, "Male" and "Female," with no means of addressing other gender identities. While "Male" and "Female" are the two most common gender identities, they do not represent all of humanity, nor indeed all of deviantART's community. Other community sites such as MetaFilter.com allow free-form text entry to indicate a user's gender. I trust that this issue will be addressed immediately so as to be inclusive of all members of deviantART. Thank you for your prompt attention."
posted by Faint of Butt at 4:49 AM on November 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


There are no human hermaphrodites.

Are you sure about that?
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 4:50 AM on November 4, 2010 [3 favorites]


Blazecock Pileon: Actually, no, to be honest. But from what I understand about anatomy, it would be difficult to correctly wire up both a functioning male and female reproductive system within a single human being. Certainly the term is no longer scientifically used to apply to humans.
posted by Zarkonnen at 4:52 AM on November 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


If it's just about ad targeting, though, then why not let users make their choice private? Surely DeviantArt get as much money for showing someone Axe Detailer ads regardless of what it says on that user's profile or which pronoun shows up in their status updates or whatever.
posted by nebulawindphone at 4:54 AM on November 4, 2010


Is deviantART something that a user pays for? Or does it have tiers like LiveJournal and such?

The way I see it, if it's a free service, then yeah, you have to deal with whatever boneheaded decisions the developers come up with. You get what you pay for, after all.

But if it's a pay site, then, well... yeah, you should be concerned when the service does not fulfill your requirements. You most certainly have a right to complain and if the service will not change its policy, take your business elsewhere.

The recourse to both scenarios, free and pay, is that if the service does not do what you need it to do, you can find another option. There is no absolute right to having your artwork hosted online at deviantART. Of course, if deviantART is looking to get as many artists as possible to use the site, thus generating content that brings in eyeballs for ads, then making sure as many types of users as possible can sign up would be in their best interest.

DeviantART certainly bungled the reply. The whole 'if you don't like it, you can leave' line at the end of many of the support replies strikes me as pretty cold and formulaic for any sort of online community. "Hey, you're right. I'll pass your suggestion up the chain of command to see what shakes loose. I'm sorry you can't set your gender to what you'd like at the moment. Either put in what you feel the most comfortable with or feel free to wait and see if we can get this resolved. Thanks!" would have been better.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 4:57 AM on November 4, 2010 [4 favorites]


I always get a little Republican on this just because, in my limited experience, people going through gender identity issues tend to be, uh, "WHAT DO YOU MEAN I CANT LIST MY GENDER AS XORBISQUIBSQUAB???? HOW DUMB AND RACIST AND UGLY ARE YOU !?!??!" and it just gets of my nerves when they can't understand what a profoundly abstract idea that is for 99% of people (And that works the other way, too, I guess).

On ther other hand, would it absolutely kill them to have "Male/Female/Other"?
posted by GilloD at 4:59 AM on November 4, 2010 [13 favorites]


(I don't actually know what gender-targeted advertising is on DeviantArt, though I know people who use it. But that is what this is about.)

Yeah, this. I assume DA feels that, were they to offer an "unspecified" or "other" option, that many of their customers, not just the non-binary ones, would pick such an option just because, thereby at least theoretically interfering with DA's targeted advertising revenue.

I'm not saying it's a good reason, but there it is.
posted by Sticherbeast at 5:00 AM on November 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


"This is free-form. Go away, nuts."
posted by hydrophonic at 5:00 AM on November 4, 2010 [6 favorites]


Maybe they could change it to PENIS or VAGINA?
posted by Sebmojo at 5:00 AM on November 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


If it's dropdown, it's probably male.
posted by twoleftfeet at 5:03 AM on November 4, 2010 [11 favorites]


robocop is bleeding: It does have a paid tier.
posted by Zarkonnen at 5:03 AM on November 4, 2010


I think I'm more fascinated by the fact that DeviantArt has Customer Service Reps. Are they in house? Do they contract out? If it's contracted out, do the CSRs have multiple sites they work for? And of course, CSR for a site about, well, deviancy, good job, or hell on earth?
posted by Ghidorah at 5:03 AM on November 4, 2010


I think I'm more fascinated by the fact that DeviantArt has Customer Service Reps. Are they in house? Do they contract out?

I picture their CSRs as furry otherkin and poorly drawn Sonic the Hedgehog analogs. All wearing headsets, in cubicles.
posted by Sticherbeast at 5:10 AM on November 4, 2010 [14 favorites]


I always get a little Republican on this just because, in my limited experience, people going through gender identity issues tend to be, uh, "WHAT DO YOU MEAN I CANT LIST MY GENDER AS XORBISQUIBSQUAB???? HOW DUMB AND RACIST AND UGLY ARE YOU !?!??!" and it just gets of my nerves when they can't understand what a profoundly abstract idea that is for 99% of people

I think it helps clear up that feeling if you imagine yourself in an un-gendered world where you are the only person you know who identifies as a man, while rest of the world considers you to be sick, confused, perverted, or just going through "issues". Then have someone tell you that there is no such thing as a man, and you're being abstract. It's a soul-wrenching kind feeling.
posted by Salvor Hardin at 5:11 AM on November 4, 2010 [37 favorites]


It's also interesting how the gendered pronouns appear to be wired into DA's interface. I guess they thought it would be cute to have the site automatically say "you can't see blah-blah-blah's gallery because his pictures are private", but that strategy paints them into a grammatical corner when it comes to the reasonable request for a non-binary option.
posted by Sticherbeast at 5:12 AM on November 4, 2010


We're all Hermey.
posted by pracowity at 5:15 AM on November 4, 2010


...kind of feeling
posted by Salvor Hardin at 5:16 AM on November 4, 2010


as soon as i started following more links to deviantart for windows skins rather than... "traditional" art my perspective on the deviant changed significantly.
posted by VulcanMike at 5:21 AM on November 4, 2010


Here's a puzzle for you. A father and his son are in a car accident. The father is horribly killed and the child is raced to the hospital. The surgeon takes one look at the child and says "I can't operate on this child because he is my son."

Why can't the surgeon operate on the child?

The answer may challenge all of your gender expectations, because in this case the surgeon is a hermaphrodite and so is the son.
posted by twoleftfeet at 5:23 AM on November 4, 2010 [37 favorites]


"This is free-form, go nuts."

You claim it's free form, but you are already making specifications...
posted by GenjiandProust at 5:34 AM on November 4, 2010 [2 favorites]


The idea that it's just about targeted advertising is also pretty offensive, though. I'm a guy, but I don't want ads about sports or red meat or naked ladies. I want ads about nice shoes and good tea and, I dunno, doilies. What the fuck kind of targeted ad strategy can they create based off of my sex and/or gender?
posted by shakespeherian at 5:36 AM on November 4, 2010


Tangentially related, previously.
posted by condour75 at 5:42 AM on November 4, 2010


As has been noted, they're holding the line on this because the ad department told them to.

I wouldn't be the slightest bit concerned until they started taking down the Kim Possible-themed hermaphrodite 3D renderings. Not that I've ever gone looking for that sort of thing, or have downloaded it onto my iPod, or written accompanying fan fiction for NaNoWriMo.
posted by Slap*Happy at 5:45 AM on November 4, 2010 [7 favorites]


Kim Possible-themed hermaphrodite 3D renderings

Link or didn't happen.
posted by nomadicink at 5:47 AM on November 4, 2010 [2 favorites]


Let this be a lesson to Customer Service Managers everywhere. If you have no way to address the complaint, or no intention to address it, then just don't address it. Deal with it this way:

We are sorry you feel the services and choices we offer are unsuitable for your use. If you do not wish to continue using our services under our current terms and conditions, you may delete your account.

And then you do not say one single word beyond that. There are always customers who cannot be satisfied. There is no reason to continue engagement with them, on their terms, once it is obvious you cannot satisfy them.
posted by charlie don't surf at 5:51 AM on November 4, 2010 [15 favorites]


On the axis of discrimination, from not being able to put a setting into a social networking page, to not being able to get a job, to being beaten or murdered, I'm not sure this is as bad a situation as it could be.

As the activist LGBTQ community is fond of saying, it's all a continuum. So, while it's not the end of the world, for a site that calls itself deviantart, it's certainly startling. If I were intersex, getting called a "hermaphrodite" by some tech support bonehead would be infuriating (unless there's some new usage of the term that I'm not clued into that's identity-positive, which from the context of the linked post it doesn't seem there is).

Intersex people in the US do still get beaten up, if not murdered. The same mental shit that leads to this kind of callous, shitty behavior in website customer service responses in the real world can travel to more perverse forms of discrimination and bigotry in the real world as well under the right conditions.
posted by blucevalo at 5:52 AM on November 4, 2010 [24 favorites]


That exchange was painful to read. There's no excuse for insulting someone like that, even if you still intend to tell them "no."

And of course, CSR for a site about, well, deviancy, good job, or hell on earth?

DeviantArt isn't about deviancy at all. Their name is really just a marketing strategy--a way to position themselves as coolly subcultural, which they think appeals to artsy-fartsy types. They aren't actually about deviancy any more than Mountain Dew is about Extreme Sports. When you look at the types of content that they encourage, versus the type that they discourage, they're really just a gallery site for illustrators.

Appealing to their name isn't going to move anyone there to sympathy. Their name isn't their philosophy, although sometimes they try to pretend it is. It's a good way to point out their hypocrisy, though--yes, market yourself as a site "for deviants" and then expect everyone to declare a non-deviant gender-identity.
posted by Kutsuwamushi at 5:54 AM on November 4, 2010 [9 favorites]


The idea that it's just about targeted advertising is also pretty offensive, though. I'm a guy, but I don't want ads about sports or red meat or naked ladies. I want ads about nice shoes and good tea and, I dunno, doilies. What the fuck kind of targeted ad strategy can they create based off of my sex and/or gender?

Weirdly, though, I find internet ads less gender-enforcing than ads on TV or the radio or billboards.

That is, when I'm signed on as Gender: Male on Facebook or wherever, they try to sell me cheap beer, video games and action movies. But they don't try to convince me that I'm some kind of shameful freak if I'm an outlier who doesn't like cheap beer, video games and action movies. Whereas TV beer ads, say, are all about "Look, folks, men are like this and women are like this, so get in line before we call you a fag" — really trying quite hard to sell you the gender binary itself as well as some specific gendered product.
posted by nebulawindphone at 5:55 AM on November 4, 2010 [6 favorites]


Intersex people in the US do still get beaten up, if not murdered. The same mental shit that leads to this kind of callous, shitty behavior in website customer service responses in the real world can travel to more perverse forms of discrimination and bigotry in the real world as well under the right conditions.

Agreed, wholeheartedly.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 5:55 AM on November 4, 2010 [3 favorites]


DeviantArt isn't about deviancy at all.

Every other picture I see on DeviantArt is of Commander Shepard having sex with Garrus; that's pretty deviant.

sample size disclaimer: I only go to DA when linked there by Mass Effect fan communities
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 6:06 AM on November 4, 2010 [10 favorites]


The idea that it's just about targeted advertising is also pretty offensive, though. I'm a guy, but I don't want ads about sports or red meat or naked ladies. I want ads about nice shoes and good tea and, I dunno, doilies. What the fuck kind of targeted ad strategy can they create based off of my sex and/or gender?
posted by shakespeherian at 8:36 AM on 11/4


eh, gender based marketing is all about the numbers though. Sure, there is probably a significant number of outliers (ie people turned off by it), but as long as the gender based ad model results in more clickthroughs than the scattershot gender neutral ads, I can't really see it going away anytime soon.
posted by thsmchnekllsfascists at 6:08 AM on November 4, 2010


It would be to the advertiser's advantage to fix this as well -- if you were paying top dollar to sell Axe body spray to a bunch of bros, would you want to spend an impression on someone who's not completely sold on the "male" option?

At the very least, Male / Female / None of your Fucking Business. And if it's not going to happen any time soon, make sure your CSRs adapt a slightly more apologetic tone.
posted by condour75 at 6:11 AM on November 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


It's not just about gender-based marketing.

The real money is in buying and selling profile information that are then linked to third-party real-world databases (with names, addresses and purchase histories) that are further bought and sold. I imagine forcing the product to choose the gender they are most likely identified as in those third-party databases is key to DeviantArt selling its profile info in the first place.
posted by mediareport at 6:14 AM on November 4, 2010


(To clarify, by "gender-based marketing" I mean targeted ads on the site itself; that's only part of the marketing story.)
posted by mediareport at 6:16 AM on November 4, 2010


and that's why I have always liked The Left Hand of Darkness
posted by The Lady is a designer at 6:30 AM on November 4, 2010 [8 favorites]


if you imagine yourself in an un-gendered world where you are the only person you know who identifies as a man, while rest of the world considers you to be sick, confused, perverted, or just going through "issues".

Worst. TNG. Episode. Ever.
posted by Gator at 6:34 AM on November 4, 2010 [11 favorites]


I'm surprised those DeviantArt reps didn't go all in and phrase their answer "Each user can choose the gender he is most comfortable with," for maximum rage.
posted by No-sword at 6:36 AM on November 4, 2010 [2 favorites]


For those who think it's a petty concern for the individual to harp on, isn't it an even pettier concern for the administrators of a huge, diverse community to harp on, to the point of being insulting or willfully ignorant?
posted by hermitosis at 6:38 AM on November 4, 2010 [14 favorites]


I'm in the middle of a very long (40-something pages) thread about digital painting on conceptart, and I notice that in the three or four lines of microprint under each "posted by" username some read "male," some read "female," and some read "prefer not to say." So there's at least one pretty well known art site for DA users to head for if they want to vote with their feet.
posted by jfuller at 6:39 AM on November 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


if you imagine yourself in an un-gendered world where you are the only person you know who identifies as a man, while rest of the world considers you to be sick, confused, perverted, or just going through "issues".

Worst. TNG. Episode. Ever.


Best. Walker Texas Ranger. Episode. Ever.
posted by Sticherbeast at 6:40 AM on November 4, 2010 [21 favorites]


My guess is that the CSRs are contracted out, or do not have very close contact with the programmers, and are asked to respond to queries in such a manner that is in keeping with the existing site. The rep seems to be covering for an edge-case that some programmer absentmindedly forgot to account for.

The author of the linked article had a pretty good point, but had absolutely no right to be a complete jerk about it, or to get hung up on the site's name*. Things may have changed from a few years ago, but I do remember that there were moderators and admins that could be individually contacted on the site -- there was absolutely no point in continuing to lambast the poor CSR after the original response.

Sadly, ze seems to have made a complete parody of zirself over the issue, which is a shame, because I completely agree with her on principle, and ze might have a whole lot more support if ze remained civil throughout this incident.

*Speaking of which, my MetaFilter is cloudy today, and has a salty aftertaste. For a site named MetaFilter, you guys are doing a fucking terrible job.
posted by schmod at 6:40 AM on November 4, 2010


mediareport: "The real money is in buying and selling profile information that are then linked to third-party real-world databases (with names, addresses and purchase histories) that are further bought and sold."

Honestly, that was my first thought, too - they probably got a database package back in May with options to export the profiles for marketing purposes, and it came pre-set with a binary gender distinction because products tend to be marketed to a "male" or "female" demographic. There might even have been some in-house training about what to respond if the customers people whose info is being sold to the customers complained, along the lines of "apologize, but tell them to go elsewhere if they don't like it". Fringe groups like the one pointed out here are worthless to advertisers anyway, since they don't fit any of their standard schemes, so the only one bothered by this development is the one making the complaint.
posted by PontifexPrimus at 6:42 AM on November 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


Damnit. I accidentally slipped a gender-specific pronoun into my comment. We really need to find something less ridiculous-sounding for a gender-neutral pronoun than "ze." It's not a remotely common sound in English.
posted by schmod at 6:42 AM on November 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


"Neutrois" seems like a strange way to identify. I'm no French expert, but isn't the suffix 'ois' male gendered, with the female form being '-oise'?
posted by rocket88 at 6:45 AM on November 4, 2010


> Every other picture I see on DeviantArt is of Commander Shepard having sex with Garrus

All that is behind their wall if you don't register, and is a great reason not to.
posted by jfuller at 6:45 AM on November 4, 2010


I accidentally slipped a gender-specific pronoun into my comment.

You could have said "ya'll"
posted by nomadicink at 6:46 AM on November 4, 2010


"prefer not to say."

Hello. Even if you have standard-issue genitalia, and identify with them is socally-normative ways, it's possible that you may prefer to not reveal your gender in an online user profile. Not giving people this option is intrusive.
posted by Devils Rancher at 6:46 AM on November 4, 2010 [9 favorites]


"Why is it so vitally important to DeviantArt that users specify a gender? What do they intend to do with this information anyway?"

As others have said, I'm sure there is a dollar amount they will lose in selling targeted advertising if they cannot target every user precisely by gender, and that dollar amount is worth more to them than the outrage of anybody who doesn't like the categories provided.

And as Stitcherbeast says, many perfectly gender-non-queer people would prefer not be forced to identify their gender publically when they don't have to, both for targeted advertising purposes and for just plain old privacy.

dA is such a crock.
posted by edheil at 7:00 AM on November 4, 2010


I totally go off the same way when Adobe has 'Architect' in their profession drop-down but not 'Urban Planner' or 'Land Use Planner' and I have to self-define as 'other'. It leaves me unsatisfied and under-represented.

While I agree that this person is totally in the right and deviantArt is totally in the wrong and being incredibly insensitive, I fail to see why this is worthy of the time and effort and anguish. They're clearly not interested in changing and I would simply leave.

As an aside - it doesn't apply to this situation directly but the shock at people still using the word 'hermaphrodite' is a little strange. I'm about as tolerant and accepting a person as exists but I honestly wouldn't know what a 'neutrois' was or that 'hermaphrodite' is no longer acceptable. While the LGBT etc. community has these issues in the forefront quite often, most of us encounter these discussions so infrequently that we're ignorant of the currently-accepted terminology.
posted by jimmythefish at 7:09 AM on November 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


Just say male and you won't get harassed anywhere near as much.
posted by MikeWarot at 7:09 AM on November 4, 2010


"This is free-form, go nuts."

You claim it's free form, but you are already making specifications...


and why would I have to "go nuts" to use the free form? are you implying that only crazy people would identify as another gender? and furthermore using the word "nut" to describe persons with psychological conditions is highly offensive.
posted by brevator at 7:10 AM on November 4, 2010


I kind of love DeviantART. When I become a grossly-overpaid web consultant, DeviantART's one of those sites that's worth five or six case studies. And as a result I'm surprised when I remember the rest of the Internet doesn't know dA and its hilarious cast of characters inside and out.

The site is this perfect example of why you want to be basically decent human being if you're trying to run an enormous web site. But it's also proof that you don't really have to be an active participant, either. And there're lots of examples inside it of how the overall site society matters much less than the power of the individual groups that form within. The tendency in such a large site is to gravitate towards the people in charge, no matter how unartistic in this case they might be; but the real gems of the site tend to be users that use the site for its functionality and not for its community.

When the site got launched, it wasn't really a site for artists or deviants at all. It was originally for WinAmp skinners, and then gradually decided to include other art forms. It's been kind of cool actually as a writer seeing how they started off not knowing what to do with text entries, to finally having a lukewarm solution that doesn't actively offend people.

The "anime amateur" reputation comes directly down from the CEO, who's 29 and as emotional-angsty-fanboyish as any member. It's kind of enjoyable actually that instead of adapting the "bland PR CEO" model he still writes these emotional impulsive blog posts. But because the people in charge of the site are essentially not artists, the result is that there tends to be constant tension between the people at the very top level, and the community volunteers that run the individual categories. The guy in charge of poetry was unexpectedly terminated while I was trying it out for the first time. Wrote a spiel about how everything sucked. I can't find it but that's okay. There was also drama because one of the original founders was booted out of the company and spent a few years complaining excessively about it.

The result is that there're two DeviantART communities. There're the communities of people who honestly care about becoming better as artists, who are at DeviantART because it's the biggest place that has the word "art" in the title, and because it's perhaps impossible to have a site both be popular and devoted to artistic betterment. So they go, they form their own little groups, and sometimes they do really cool stuff. Then there're the people who are there only for the drama, and who think "art" means "everything is wonderful always" and so spend their time inflating their own egos, flirting with more popular users, and generally doing all the things that happen in any large community that consists mainly of teenagers.

There's a constant wave of new users coming to DeviantART, struggling to figure out how exactly the site functions as a community, and then either assimilating themselves or leaving for someplace better.

So yeah. This story doesn't surprise me. DeviantART decided they wanted to use his/hers terminology on their web site, so they thought they'd force everybody into a gender. They didn't think things through and now they've alienated a group of people who were hoping the name of the site meant something more than "we founded this site in the late 90s". Realitysquared, mentioned in this article, was then and seemingly is now the kind of staff person who thinks insulting and belittling users is proper customer service. It's not prejudice on their part. They simply don't run the site professionally. To them, making a web site doesn't mean thinking about things like people who aren't male or female.

The people who are really ambitious about art get their own sites. Mass portfolio sites can only go so far. And there're better mass portfolio sites out there. No need to get that irritated; just acknowledge dA for what it is, and find a site that serves more of a purpose than "kids are sad".
posted by Rory Marinich at 7:10 AM on November 4, 2010 [15 favorites]


Yeah, but for status our only options are "single, taken, open or blank". That's always struck me as odd.

No, it's even. If there was a fifth option, it would be odd.
posted by Legomancer at 7:13 AM on November 4, 2010 [2 favorites]


"Despite (or maybe in spite of) the numerous user complaints, dA has not offered an explanation of any sort."

I am curious what this person thinks "despite" means.

"Yes. This happened on Spirit Day, of all days! At first I was baffled, but then I realized why: deviantART doesn't actually give a damn about the queer community or those kids who had killed themselves."

This is where I stopped reading.
posted by Eideteker at 7:14 AM on November 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


Anyone who claims DeviantArt doesn't nurture deviance obviously does not have an account and has not seem the crazy twisted pornography that bored 16 year olds twist their cartoon obsessions in to.
posted by Theta States at 7:14 AM on November 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


My apologies but there are only two sexes; male and female so one should apply to you. In the unusual case that you are hermaphrodite then I would suggest that you select the one which you feel applies the best.

I completely love that this guy's job title is Copyright & Etiquette Administration Manager.
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 7:19 AM on November 4, 2010


On the one hand, deviantART handled the situation poorly, and they should just add an "Other/Unspecified" option and be done with it. On the other hand, this:

On the axis of discrimination … I'm not sure this is as bad a situation as it could be.

Most people outside of gender studies classrooms use the word "gender" as a synonym for "biological sex". The question on dA's registration form isn't asking for your gender identity; it's asking for your biological sex.

Yes, they're giving that information to advertisers, who will make dubious inferences about your gender identity (and sexual orientation) based on your biological sex. In most cases, those inferences will be correct. In some cases, they will be wrong. Worst-case scenario: you'll see an advertisement that doesn't interest you. Hey, I hate those Axe commercials, too.

(Yes, there are physically intersex folks—but it doesn't sound like this author is one of them. The post isn't 100% clear, but it sounds like she's biologically female, and her complaint is that this question about her biological gender doesn't provide an option that matches her gender identity. [I hope my gender-specific pronouns don't traumatize anyone too much; I haven't any neuter ones to use.])

The CSR was a bit of a clod to use the word "hermaphrodite", but it's a little histrionic to act like he's just dropped the N-bomb or something. It wasn't a slur; it was an ignorant but honest mistake. Most people have had little exposure to intersex and genderqueer folks, and don't know the terminology. If you ask a hundred people on the street what "hermaphrodite" means, 99 of them will answer "a person with ambiguous genitalia", or something to that effect. That's what the guy meant. Sure, it's not 100% scientifically accurate, but he wasn't writing a research paper.

(And this reinforces the idea that the question is about the user's biological gender, not their gender identity.)

As others have pointed out, biological gender, gender identity, and sexual orientation are distinct concepts. Perhaps the registration form should simply allow the user to specify each of these (or whatever subset of them is relevant and necessary). The gender identity would tell dA's application code what set of pronouns to use, and savvy advertisers could make use of all three.
posted by ixohoxi at 7:20 AM on November 4, 2010 [5 favorites]


Legomancer, I think he/she/it/e/xe was indexing from zero.

0. single
1. taken
2. open
3. blank

3 is indeed odd. And prime. And damn but this cold medicine is good.

fuuunky col medicinaaaaaa

shutup my logic is internally consistent. here drink this cold medicine...
posted by Eideteker at 7:21 AM on November 4, 2010


I'm sorry, but from a database standpoint, adding the third value "not available or something else" is beyond trivial.
And I agree that this is probably about marketing and selling targeted ads. Since the problem affects a small percentage of their user base, they figure they don't need to care, and the usual churn will take care of it.
I've always hated even visiting DA because their site is slow as hell and they push a lot of the "you need to purchase this and that".
posted by Old'n'Busted at 7:26 AM on November 4, 2010


I totally go off the same way when Adobe has 'Architect' in their profession drop-down but not 'Urban Planner' or 'Land Use Planner' and I have to self-define as 'other'. It leaves me unsatisfied and under-represented.

I set up my online ordering account a Uline the other day, and they had this huge drop-down to choose from for job description, but none of them fit, so I chose "Scientist." Now when their junk mail shows up here at work, it's addressed to

CHRIS VREELAND
SCIENTIST

I like it.
posted by Devils Rancher at 7:26 AM on November 4, 2010 [8 favorites]


The American Library Association is pretty slack when it comes to verifying titles for new members. So, for the last five years I've been a Colonel.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 7:30 AM on November 4, 2010 [22 favorites]


ze might have a whole lot more support if ze remained civil throughout this incident.

The tone argument? Seriously?

Or does it have tiers like LiveJournal and such?

Considering the massive amount of fail LJ has undergone in the past few years, it's amazing that in this respect, dA could learn a lot from LJ. Late last year there was an uncommitted code change to make Male/Female the only choices in LJ profiles (dropping "unspecified/other"), but as soon as word got out they backpedaled and said it was a code SNAFU. Whether that part's true or not, the important part is they backed down.
posted by kmz at 7:31 AM on November 4, 2010


I actually used to like/use this site.

I will never take them seriously again.

What stings the most is that 90 percent of the people who think they are being open-minded about issues like this are just as inconsiderate, if not more.

There is no other hand to this issue. Deviantart should be ashamed of how it dealt with this situation.
posted by flyinghamster at 7:32 AM on November 4, 2010 [3 favorites]


My feeling on this is that the author here was certainly treated insensitively by the reps over at DevArt. That alone has made me question my membership there.

However... I'm not really on board with getting uppity about not being able to list your particular gender. Some battles are better left unwaged. I'm torn about this, because I grew up questioning my gender a great deal. Of course, I ended up deciding to live my life as a female (as I was born), so I'm not sure how much empathy that allows me. If it was me, I would just pick one and drop it before allowing devArt to make themselves look foolish.

Am I bigot for believing that some people just need to get over themselves and realise that they're just never going to fit into society the way they wish they would? I can understand the feeling of alienation, but I think time may be better spent overcoming that emotion rather than picking fights with the internet to justify your own special snowflake existence.
posted by sunshinesky at 7:35 AM on November 4, 2010 [5 favorites]


For some reason this unintentional comedy reminds me of William Tenn's Venus and the Seven Sexes. I wonder how Tenn would write that story today. Does the gender theorist come to Venus and instruct all seven sexes that their gender identities are in fact meaningless constructs? Man, DeviantArt registration forms would be the least of their problems.
posted by shii at 7:36 AM on November 4, 2010


Every other picture I see on DeviantArt is of Commander Shepard having sex with Garrus; that's pretty deviant.

Oh come on, that's a canon ship. Now, Shepard/Wrex, Shepard/Reaper, FemShep/MaleShep, etc... those might count as crack!pairings.
posted by kmz at 7:36 AM on November 4, 2010


I just got this reply:

y2jenn, Nov 04 06:54 am (PDT):

Hi!
Thank you so much for your concern and report! Please know that your feedback about this is very appreciated and has been collected and sent to our Community Operations manager for review and consideration. We are taking this seriously and thank you for your thoughts.

☼ Jenn Lee
Support Desk Representative
deviantART, Inc.


So it seems that someone, at this point, at least comprehends the fundamental principles of consumer interaction, which is an improvement.
posted by Faint of Butt at 7:38 AM on November 4, 2010


Am I bigot for believing that some people just need to get over themselves and realise that they're just never going to fit into society the way they wish they would?

You know, it's really kind of a matter of degrees.

I would probably just laugh at someone who tried to organize a boycott of DeviantArt because their pulldown options don't include "genderqueer soft-butch transfag." Not for being what they are, mind you. For the whole boycott thing.

But I don't think that expanding the options from "Male/Female" to "Male/Female/Prefer not to say" is an unreasonable request.
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 7:41 AM on November 4, 2010 [2 favorites]


I'm not really on board with getting uppity about not being able to list your particular gender.

"Uppity"?? And the problem isn't that they can't specify their gender. They have to specify either male or female.

Does the gender theorist come to Venus and instruct all seven sexes that their gender identities are in fact meaningless constructs?

Gender identifies are anything but meaningless. No gender theorist would agree with your straw man argument there.
posted by kmz at 7:45 AM on November 4, 2010 [2 favorites]


but from a database standpoint, adding the third value "not available or something else" is beyond trivial.

In a well-architected and well-coded system, yes. But DeviantART has been around for a while and who knows what kind of kruft there might be attached to the 'Sex' field... There may be some years-old, hard-coded logic in the system that causes everything to blow up if 'sex' is not exactly 'male' or 'female'... and on investigation it may come to light that fixing that logic breaks some other obscure, hard-coded logic, the fixing of which would break something else, and so on.

I'm not saying they shouldn't have a freeform sex field, or that their response wasn't lame... just that there's often more to "Adding this feature should be simple, what are you waiting for?" feature requests than people realize, and it's not always the fault of the current custodians of the code.
posted by usonian at 7:45 AM on November 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


But I don't think that expanding the options from "Male/Female" to "Male/Female/Prefer not to say" is an unreasonable request.

Oh, I absolutely agree, and I will reiterate that I think devArt handled this very, very poorly. I just think this whole thing could have been avoided from the get-go. I guess some people just have an agenda to push. I never 'got' that about people. Live and let live...
posted by sunshinesky at 7:46 AM on November 4, 2010


The simplest way to fix this would be to make the choices something like:
1. Male
2. Female
3. Both
4. Neither

And for best effect the order of the first two entries should be randomized on every page load.

The hardest way to fix this would be to stop giving a damn what gender/sex your site users are and just administer the damn site already.
posted by caution live frogs at 7:48 AM on November 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


In a well-architected and well-coded system, yes. But DeviantART has been around for a while and who knows what kind of kruft there might be attached to the 'Sex' field... There may be some years-old, hard-coded logic in the system that causes everything to blow up if 'sex' is not exactly 'male' or 'female'... and on investigation it may come to light that fixing that logic breaks some other obscure, hard-coded logic, the fixing of which would break something else, and so on.

They actually took away the "Unspecified" option.
posted by kmz at 7:50 AM on November 4, 2010 [2 favorites]


Am I bigot for believing that some people just need to get over themselves and realise that they're just never going to fit into society the way they wish they would?

As a trans person (FTM), indicating my gender online was a huge issue for me. Not because I identified as a 3rd/other gender, but because if I put down "male," I'd out myself to my old friends who didn't yet know I was trans, and if I put down "female," I'd out myself to my new friends, who only ever saw me as male.

So, there is that isolation, ever for those of us who are OK with living in a binary system. Transition is stressful and the timeline is never the same for two people; for me, it sucked not being able to share some of the same social places as my friends because of a stupid set of radio buttons.

Ultimately in my case, I've found a lot of my worry was for nothing (I finally bit the bullet and signed up for Facebook... and yup, I got a ton of messages from ancient highschool friends... all congratulating me on my transition). But for a lot of queer people, the internet is a safe haven to explore one's gender and sexuality and it sucks to have to worry about being outed due to demographic profiling like this.
posted by Wossname at 7:52 AM on November 4, 2010 [28 favorites]


In a well-architected and well-coded system, yes. But DeviantART has been around for a while and who knows what kind of kruft there might be attached to the 'Sex' field... There may be some years-old, hard-coded logic in the system that causes everything to blow up if 'sex' is not exactly 'male' or 'female'... and on investigation it may come to light that fixing that logic breaks some other obscure, hard-coded logic, the fixing of which would break something else, and so on.

I don't think that is the case; the article mentioned that it used to be this/that/theother. If they replaced it whole-sale with a new system that uses a bunch of case/switch statements, then sure. But it does appear, from a UI standpoint, that they are doing this to change the he/she text on the fly. In my stuff I generally either use the generic "they" pronoun, or where it doesn't sound right, revert to masculine form - I'd rather spend the time on better things than this, such as, you know, actual usable content and speedy page response time.

For something that is SERIOUS overkill on choice, the Royal Opera House registration page has more titles then you can shake a stick at. And even then I think they are missing some.
posted by Old'n'Busted at 7:53 AM on November 4, 2010 [7 favorites]


I guess some people just have an agenda to push.

OK, is there some meta-Meta game going on I'm not aware of? It's like people are purposely trying to hit all the squares.
posted by kmz at 7:54 AM on November 4, 2010 [2 favorites]


As a trans person (FTM), indicating my gender online was a huge issue for me. Not because I identified as a 3rd/other gender, but because if I put down "male," I'd out myself to my old friends who didn't yet know I was trans, and if I put down "female," I'd out myself to my new friends, who only ever saw me as male.

Thank you for making this incredibly enlightening point.
posted by sunshinesky at 7:56 AM on November 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


Hah, this reminds me of people I know on Facebook who have evidently identified themselves as the wrong gender.

Seriously, though:

There isn't a gender neutral option, probably because the marketing people don't want people of male/female using the neutral to avoid having to state. So they make it a forced choice. It's not that they are ignorant or intolerant, it's that they choose to eliminate a portion of their demographic because of marketing issues.

It's inflexible. It is intolerant and ignorant and all that. It's symptomatic of the beginning-of-the-end for any company - when they begin making decisions based on marketing, and not product or service, you know bad, bad, things are going to happen. It will get worse. Even if deviantART fixes this particular issue, the marketing hacks have wormed their way into the central nervous system of the company and are sapping the life from it.
posted by Xoebe at 8:09 AM on November 4, 2010 [3 favorites]


Am I bigot for believing that some people just need to get over themselves and realise that they're just never going to fit into society the way they wish they would?

You realize that since this is deviantArt, you are dealing with subsection of the furry community that has the maximum amount of free time, right?
posted by Theta States at 8:09 AM on November 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


I just think this whole thing could have been avoided from the get-go. I guess some people just have an agenda to push.

Everyone in the world has an agenda to push, or to defend, and that's just fine. This is a bit of a strange (/belittling/dismissive) accusation to point at someone that you acknowledge is making a "perfectly reasonable request".
posted by Drexen at 8:10 AM on November 4, 2010 [3 favorites]


Also for the benefit of all those advertising people out there who can't figure out how to apply "gender targeted" advertising to LGBTQ folks, try this:
import random

IF (user.gender = "MALE"):
      banner.config(type="MANLY MAN AD")
ELIF (user.gender = "FEMALE"):
      banner.config(type="GIRLY GIRL AD")
ELSE:
      banner.config(type=random.choice(["MANLY MAN AD", "GIRLY GIRL AD"])
You're welcome. I'll accept the royalties in US dollars plz.


What? What do you mean web ad scripts aren't written in python?
posted by Salvor Hardin at 8:13 AM on November 4, 2010 [3 favorites]


How much do people pay to use DeviantArt? s/he should just ask for h/is/er money back.
posted by mecran01 at 8:15 AM on November 4, 2010


My pleasure, sunshinesky, though I can understand being frustrated with people loudly demanding a genderqueer/neutral option without explaining why.

The "rather not say" option is also very important for people who wish to retain some sense of anonymity in a world that tries to hard to profile you. Or for those wishing to escape harassment.

For example, I used to run a gaming server for a clan that was about 90% female. Most of the women had masculine or gender-neutral callnames/avatars* simply to avoid harassment in a social circle that is known for misogyny. Women in other online spaces, including DeviantArt, often find themselves vulnerable to virtual catcalling if they disclose their gender. So, many simply remain gender-neutral, if at all possible.

* They would also NEVER speak in vent when playing games, because that would out them. My server was the first time many of these women had actually felt "safe" to speak with their actual voices, instead of via text. Makes me mad people have to jump through hoops like this.
posted by Wossname at 8:16 AM on November 4, 2010 [6 favorites]


Total derail:

I totally go off the same way when Adobe has 'Architect' in their profession drop-down but not 'Urban Planner'

Don't most urban planners work for state and local government agencies? There's probably a drop-down for 'Government'. I know that sounds like a ridiculously broad categorization, but it makes sense in the context of collecting sales data. Like a lot of companies, Adobe probably has a completely separate sales force for government purchases. This is because the government purchasing process is so different from normal retail channels.

A generic 'Government' drop-down selection is the easiest way to filter those software registrations from normal retail sales and shunt them off to the government sales group. Best not to take it personally.

posted by ryanrs at 8:16 AM on November 4, 2010


What do you mean web ad scripts aren't written in python?

You call that Python?
posted by ryanrs at 8:18 AM on November 4, 2010 [3 favorites]


Well, it's kind of a mix, come to think of it.
posted by Salvor Hardin at 8:22 AM on November 4, 2010


As a person in charge of large computer systems, saying 'no' is something you need to be able to do because there are oh so many Special Snowflakes who Do Not Fit Into THE MAN's Categories and I, as THE MAN apparently, am keeping them down.

They love to get tied up in the details and create drama and Need To Be Heard and No One Understands.

I love working with those types. Love love love. Each one is a ticking time bomb.
posted by unixrat at 8:23 AM on November 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


Ah hell, now I have to fix it.
import random

if user.gender == "MALE":
      banner.config(type="MANLY MAN AD")
elif user.gender == "FEMALE":
      banner.config(type="GIRLY GIRL AD")
else:
      banner.config(type=random.choice(["MANLY MAN AD", "GIRLY GIRL AD"]))


posted by Salvor Hardin at 8:25 AM on November 4, 2010


In fact, I'd be surprised if people-who-declare-neither-gender didn't constitute a marketing niche in their own right. Granted they're not homogenous, but there are several salient subclasses who you could tailor ads to.

I have a hard time believing there isn't someone out their who would pay good money for targeted advertising to trans people (or genderqueer people, or intensely privacy-conscious people, or contrarians who don't like filling out forms, or whatever).
posted by nebulawindphone at 8:26 AM on November 4, 2010 [2 favorites]


As a person in charge of large computer systems, saying 'no' is something you need to be able to do because there are oh so many Special Snowflakes who Do Not Fit Into THE MAN's Categories and I, as THE MAN apparently, am keeping them down.

They love to get tied up in the details and create drama and Need To Be Heard and No One Understands.


Beyond the idiotic dismissiveness you're showing, did you miss the part where they took options away? And if your database has such a fucked up schema that adding a value for a field is a huge deal, then I don't want you anywhere near any of my systems.
posted by kmz at 8:31 AM on November 4, 2010 [17 favorites]


As a person in charge of large computer systems, saying 'no' is something you need to be able to do because there are oh so many Special Snowflakes who Do Not Fit Into THE MAN's Categories and I, as THE MAN apparently, am keeping them down.

Anyone who takes database design courses should be forced to take a humanities methodologies course as well.
If you are unable to understand the basics of creating statistically relevant survey questions, then you are probably likewise unable to craft database types for a large and diverse user population.

That is to say, there is more at play than merely the data that you the developer wish to work with.
posted by Theta States at 8:36 AM on November 4, 2010 [9 favorites]


As a person in charge of large computer systems, saying 'no' is something you need to be able to do because there are oh so many Special Snowflakes who Do Not Fit Into THE MAN's Categories and I, as THE MAN apparently, am keeping them down.

Here. I realize it's a response to someone else but it's the most reasonable and accurate thing I could think of to tell you.

And probably the least furious.
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 8:36 AM on November 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


Everyone in the world has an agenda to push, or to defend, and that's just fine. This is a bit of a strange (/belittling/dismissive) accusation to point at someone that you acknowledge is making a "perfectly reasonable request".

I believe I said that it's not entirely unreasonable--it would have been easy enough for devArt to honour the request.

I have admitted that I'm pretty torn on the subject, but in practice I would personally err on the side of inaction, because I don't believe it's going to help my cause on the whole. Then again, I guess internet-hooplas of this kind in fact do draw attention to and oft-forgotten section of society. Perhaps it is a positive thing. I just have trouble understanding the need to categorise a gender the author has admitted, lacks a category. Obviously what I'm getting as is that it should be an opt-in, free-form type thing like we have here. It isn't though...

It looks like this person might effect some change after all. Good on them. I would not have gone to such lengths. Somebody's got to do it, right? I'm still not entirely convinced.
posted by sunshinesky at 8:38 AM on November 4, 2010


humanities methodologies course

That would probably be more relevant if it read just "methodologies" instead. Any MA level methodologies course, or hell even a psych methodologies one, would probably do.

posted by Theta States at 8:43 AM on November 4, 2010


I'd like to have just one gender thread that doesn't turn into a python contest.
posted by condour75 at 8:53 AM on November 4, 2010 [18 favorites]


I use deviantart and this is one of those time you have to recognize an actual privilege. I know people don't love that word, but looking into this and reading some basic stuff on this "neutrois" business (I read this. I don't know how great it is, but it seemed an obvious place to start). I actually have to say I probably would never have noticed this, particularly the gendered pronouns the site uses. I also have to say that I feel some actual privilege in being straight and cis-gendered, and never having to say things like this:

"Our purpose (beyond living free of irrational and inapplicable gender categories), is to establish for the gender community, surgical practitioners, and psychiatrists, that we EXIST."

Yikes. Sucks.

So good post. I actually didn't know this label before today and probably would have gone with "androgyne" or something and offended people unnecessarily.

dA definitely has a large community of people who identify themselves in all sorts of strange ways so this does feel odd to me... free form is definitely the way to go with this since "gay male winged fox" would need to be there and "asexual undead dragonkin" and everything that makes dA good/weird.
posted by ServSci at 8:53 AM on November 4, 2010 [2 favorites]


Also for the benefit of all those advertising people out there who can't figure out how to apply "gender targeted" advertising to LGBTQ folks, try this:

To play devil's advocate, the problem isn't that they can't find ways to serve ads to ungendered profiles; it's that because their gender is "indeterminate" (regardless of whether or not it actually is), it's harder to slot them into specific demographics and judge whether an advertising campaign is working for those demographics. And since the internet is all about targeted advertising these days, it's always a good idea from a marketing/sales standpoint to have more data about your users than less.

Of course, the real issue in one sense is that ADVERTISERS also have no conception of a gender besides male and female. Whether that's due to willful ignorance or because of a perception that any additional genders are niches too small to serve properly (or both), I couldn't say.

Maybe one day I'll make a website where your profile just has two sliders: one for gender, and one for Kinsey scale. (Ignore for the moment that "not male or female" doesn't necessarily mean "in between male and female"; perhaps next we'll have to discuss how to draw a continuum of gender types in a web UI context...)
posted by chrominance at 8:56 AM on November 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


I can understand being frustrated with people loudly demanding a genderqueer/neutral option without explaining why.

I can't. Why should there be an explanation necessary? People with "normative" genders don't have to explain their genders -- to anyone. If I have a non-normative gender identification, why should I have to explain it?

The only logical explanation I've seen here is that, well, that's just the way things are -- deal with it. Relax. Don't get irritated. Stop pushing your agenda. Get over yourself.

I do appreciate the folks who have gone the extra mile and explained that the issue is not dA's own beliefs or lack thereof, but more likely the advertisers'. That makes total sense to me, although it's still fucked up.

In any case, if I have to explain on an internet forum why I have a certain gender identification, I also have to explain it to customer service representatives in real life in shopping malls; I have to explain it at the doctor's office; I have to explain it to the cop who accosts me when I'm in a place I shouldn't be and puts me in handcuffs for being confrontational; I have to try to explain it to the noisy thug screaming "FREAK" at me, but there's no time, because he and his drunken pals have already beat the crap out of me and left me unconscious.
posted by blucevalo at 9:02 AM on November 4, 2010 [9 favorites]


unixrat : there are oh so many Special Snowflakes who Do Not Fit Into THE MAN's Categories and I, as THE MAN apparently, am keeping them down.

Humans have diverse needs and desires. Sometimes issues can effect people in ways that are more serious and important than it appears at first glance. Sometimes they can affect people in ways that it's difficult to understand, even if you try to, simply because your perspective doesn't allow it -- everyone has limitations on their understanding, after all.

If you don't acknowledge the above, then it might seem like the requests that you receive, as a sysadmin who has to make the compromises between computers and living, breathing human beings, are frivolous and not worth your time, when in fact, they may be important and worth trying to accomodate, especially if the solution is pretty simple, like adding one option to a drop-down menu that would accomodate pretty much everyone with non-standard gender identities in one go.

And if you react to these requests with, either subtly or overtly, the attitude that everyone whose request you dismiss should just STOP BEING IDIOTS and WASTING YOUR VALUABLE TIME by disagreeing with your COMPLETELY OBVIOUS AND LOGICAL OPINION, then they'll probably show reactions that you interpret as getting tied up in details, drama, and thinking they're a 'special snowflake' (which is a pretty obnoxious phrase, I think), when in fact, it may be that they have quite reasonable issues with your attitude.
posted by Drexen at 9:10 AM on November 4, 2010 [11 favorites]


I'm always surprised when people act like it costs them something to accommodate someone else's request for respect.

I guess if I prefer not to specify my gender online* I'm a "ticking time bomb" or somehow being "difficult" or "overly dramatic." This makes me sad.

It would have been super easy for the CSR to say "I appreciate where you're coming from, and I will forward along your request for a third option on that drop-down menu." Instead, they insulted and belittled their customer in a jock-ish, ham-handed, offensive way.

If I was that CSR's boss, I would fire them immediately, and write an apology to the customer.

I'm not really sure what to do about everyone who is essentially taking the CSR's side. That's just sad and puzzling to me.

* Metafilter is one of the few sites where I'm openly female. For the most part I use a gender-neutral name, to prevent harassment.
posted by ErikaB at 9:18 AM on November 4, 2010 [3 favorites]


Beyond the idiotic dismissiveness you're showing, did you miss the part where they took options away? And if your database has such a fucked up schema that adding a value for a field is a huge deal, then I don't want you anywhere near any of my systems.

Do you think I am the one making these design decisions? I could add 8000 gender or title or furry-preference fields if needed. Of course, I can't just willy-nilly do this, changes to production systems take time and money. Do you have any idea how many of these demands are floated every day?

There is absolutely no way that kowtowing to each Special Snowflake requests makes any sort of sense to a system of any size at all. These people are horrible pains in the ass as users. A drop down field does not define you as a person. It's merely a field. No one cares about combo data fields on a website and no one will hold you to those 'answers'.

Just fill it out and post your horrible dA drawings and let the rest of us get some work done, ok? I respect you as a fully-fledged individual, no matter what that mean ol' radio button says.
posted by unixrat at 9:32 AM on November 4, 2010


* Metafilter is one of the few sites where I'm openly female. For the most part I use a gender-neutral name, to prevent harassment.

This.

Plus no one knows you're bitch on the internet and if you're gender neutral in your handles/persona then the ideas or thoughts get considered, not which angle or agenda you may have.

I'm lucky in that my given name is pretty gender neutral or rather non human (I mean c'mon grandpa what were you thinking naming me "political ethics" or "policy"?) gah ;p
posted by The Lady is a designer at 9:37 AM on November 4, 2010 [2 favorites]


Do you think I am the one making these design decisions? I could add 8000 gender or title or furry-preference fields if needed. Of course, I can't just willy-nilly do this, changes to production systems take time and money. Do you have any idea how many of these demands are floated every day?

There is absolutely no way that kowtowing to each Special Snowflake requests makes any sort of sense to a system of any size at all. These people are horrible pains in the ass as users. A drop down field does not define you as a person. It's merely a field.


Once again you ignore the part where they took options away. They had to spend time and money to implement the restrictive new system.

No one cares about combo data fields on a website and no one will hold you to those 'answers'.

So then why is it a required field? To all the people asking why this matters, why aren't you asking that question to dA?

Just fill it out and post your horrible dA drawings and let the rest of us get some work done, ok? I respect you as a fully-fledged individual, no matter what that mean ol' radio button says.

Yes, your respect is palpable.
posted by kmz at 9:42 AM on November 4, 2010 [9 favorites]


and why would I have to "go nuts" to use the free form? are you implying that only crazy people would identify as another gender? and furthermore using the word "nut" to describe persons with psychological conditions is highly offensive.

I took it as a cheer/rallying-cry, "Go nuts!" like "Go ". so, offensive in a different way =p
posted by nomisxid at 9:48 AM on November 4, 2010


d'oh, non-preview forgetting to htmlize my fake tags, second go should be "go favorite sports team".
posted by nomisxid at 9:49 AM on November 4, 2010


I think it helps clear up that feeling if you imagine yourself in an un-gendered world where you are the only person you know who identifies as a man, while rest of the world considers you to be sick, confused, perverted, or just going through "issues". Then have someone tell you that there is no such thing as a man, and you're being abstract. It's a soul-wrenching kind feeling.

So, in other words...

- Humanity reproduces by having two genders.
- Everyone, including me, has either two X chromosomes and is female, or one X chromosome and they're not.
- Through my personal mental development, I just can't identify with either of those two genders.
- So I actively declare myself to be 'ungendered.'
- This means there is something wrong with society for assuming I am male, just because I am.

So, it follows then that...

- Humanity has a range of eye color determined by the pigment eumelanin.
- Everyone, including me, has an eye color within that possible range.
- Through my personal mental development, I just can't identify with any of those eye colors.
- So I actively declare myself to have 'other' colored eyes.
- This means there is something wrong with society for assuming that my eyes are blue, just because they are.

If I declare myself to be a penguin, it's probably safe to assume that I'd have to be considered insane, if I went around complaining that I'm being oppressed because people just don't consider that people might be walking around who identify as penguins.

At some point, isn't it the responsibility of society to push back and say that, "Yes, you really are a female?"

Accepting this pretty obvious disconnect from reality as 'diversity' strikes me as...well, just really, really weird.

All of us have fucked up self-images, right? When a rail-thin person looks in the mirror and still sees an obese person, and as a result makes him/herself throw up, it's considered a disorder. But when a man looks in the mirror and sees a woman, and then pays someone to chop his Linus off and carve a vagina into his pelvis like a meaty cored apple, that's free expression?
posted by silentpundit at 9:51 AM on November 4, 2010 [2 favorites]


Isn't the responsibility of society to round up all abnormal people, especially intersexed and homosexuals, and drop them into camps in the middle of the desert and let them starve to death? Better yet, give them all lethal injections, get it over with quickly, painlessly, no mess or fuss.

Yes. Why, yes, it is. I'm glad you asked.
posted by blucevalo at 9:54 AM on November 4, 2010


All of us have fucked up self-images, right? When a rail-thin person looks in the mirror and still sees an obese person, and as a result makes him/herself throw up, it's considered a disorder. But when a man looks in the mirror and sees a woman, and then pays someone to chop his Linus off and carve a vagina into his pelvis like a meaty cored apple, that's free expression?

Better have a drop down value ready or prepare for the screeds.
posted by unixrat at 9:58 AM on November 4, 2010


@silentpundit

Everyone, including me, has either two X chromosomes and is female, or one X chromosome and they're not.

...except that you get people who are born with sex organs different from what they "should be" according to their genetics, sex organs that are in-between, and most importantly a brain that feels it is a different gender from its biological sex. There is no "active declaration" going on here, you can simply be born with genitalia and brains that do not match up.

Reality does not nicely divide into male and female, so nor should society, which is what this is about.

posted by Zarkonnen at 9:59 AM on November 4, 2010 [4 favorites]


Once again you ignore the part where they took options away. They had to spend time and money to implement the restrictive new system.

Yes, they did. And if it was driven by marketers, YOU DON'T WANT TO GIVE THEM CORRECT INFORMATION ANYWAYS. If marketing is forcing you to fill out a field, the best answer for you is to fill it out incorrectly.

No one looks at that field. No one cares about that field. Except marketing. And unless you give a rats ass about marketers, you'll simply put something there and move on with your life.

If you write polemics about every single marketing survey out there... well, you better hope you have a good keyboard.
posted by unixrat at 10:02 AM on November 4, 2010


silentpundit: td;dr version: I don't understand the world, so the world that doesn't conform to my lack of understanding is ridiculous, amirite?
posted by Theta States at 10:03 AM on November 4, 2010 [8 favorites]


No one looks at that field. No one cares about that field.

No one cares about gender? Really? Come on now...
posted by Theta States at 10:05 AM on November 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


Marketing will never care about outliers unless you represent a significant source of potential income. I see no reason to get angry about this.
posted by unixrat at 10:06 AM on November 4, 2010


Because you're not an outlier.
posted by blucevalo at 10:07 AM on November 4, 2010 [4 favorites]


No one cares about gender? Really? Come on now...

Nobody cares about a gender checkbox on a free website. That's what this discussion is about.

Checking A or B when you feel like a C has zero effect on your life or any single thing in it, especially when the only use for that field is to determine which ads you will be shown.
posted by unixrat at 10:08 AM on November 4, 2010


unixrat: Please change the gender of each one of your online profiles now. Come on, it doesn't matter. It's just a dropdown field. No one looks at it.
Your myspace, metafilter, facebook, everything else. Walk the walk.
posted by Theta States at 10:09 AM on November 4, 2010 [9 favorites]


...and it's really a social networking website, not a marketing survey. Yes, it makes sense from a marketing & sysadmin POV to restrict the gender field to male/female, but from an user experience POV it's dreadful and inconsiderate.
posted by Zarkonnen at 10:11 AM on November 4, 2010


Checking A or B when you feel like a C has zero effect on your life or any single thing in it...

... assuming that you have no investment or connection to how you present yourself to other people.
posted by Drexen at 10:12 AM on November 4, 2010 [2 favorites]


Isn't the responsibility of society to round up all abnormal people, especially intersexed and homosexuals, and drop them into camps in the middle of the desert and let them starve to death? Better yet, give them all lethal injections, get it over with quickly, painlessly, no mess or fuss.

Yes. Why, yes, it is. I'm glad you asked.


That bears absolutely no resemblance to what I asked. I realize it's a tense issue, but come on.

There is no "active declaration" going on here, you can simply be born with genitalia and brains that do not match up.

Are we sure about this? Or could this really be a different mechanism at work--that the outdated and counter-productive strict gender roles of traditional culture are so restrictive that people confuse their personalities with gender itself?

In a healthy society, when many people find themselves unhappy because they want to behave in ways atypical of their gender, it's the society that should relax its expectations of the behaviors of those genders. I can't help but feel like that's the real issue at work here.

In any case, there's absolutely no certainty that a human can be 'born with differently gendered brains and genitals.' By what mechanism? One we don't understand? If we don't understand the 'how,' then we need to allow for the possibility that we are simply mis-framing the 'what.'
posted by silentpundit at 10:13 AM on November 4, 2010


Because you're not an outlier.

I'm a half-breed, unable to effectively check 'Caucasian' or 'Native American'. This has rendered me unable to upload my artwork to the web until I get a multi-pointed 'Race' slider so that I can truly represent how I feel about myself to Google Ad Words.
posted by unixrat at 10:14 AM on November 4, 2010


Does Deviant Art force one to select a single nationality before proceeding?
posted by Theta States at 10:17 AM on November 4, 2010


Wossname : back when I actually had the time to play online, I would often register as a female just to mess with people. The wankers would get SERIOUSLY bent of out of shape when a GIRL fragged them. Again. And again. And again. Good times.

unixrat: well, if they didn't care, then they could have left it blank or accepted "other/prefer not to say". It's just pure lazyness on their part.
posted by Old'n'Busted at 10:18 AM on November 4, 2010


But when a man looks in the mirror and sees a woman, and then pays someone to chop his Linus off and carve a vagina into his pelvis like a meaty cored apple, that's free expression?

well thank God someone's finally figured this one out

seriously, you have no idea, society as a whole has been working on this one for years

truly. cannot thank you enough.
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 10:19 AM on November 4, 2010 [7 favorites]


In any case, there's absolutely no certainty that a human can be 'born with differently gendered brains and genitals.'

Inasfar as it's useful to talk about "certainty" when talking about issues that relate to psychology, yes, there is scientific certainty.
posted by Drexen at 10:19 AM on November 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


So, in other words...

- Humanity reproduces by having two genders.
- Everyone, including me, has either two X chromosomes and is female, or one X chromosome and they're not.
- Through my personal mental development, I just can't identify with either of those two genders.
- So I actively declare myself to be 'ungendered.'
- This means there is something wrong with society for assuming I am male, just because I am.
posted by silentpundit at 12:51 PM on November 4 [+] [!]


Ok, there's a lot of stuff in there. Here are a few things to think about:

There is a difference between your karyotype and your gender. Even if you want to make a 1:1 mapping between karyotype and gender, there are many more sex chromosome combinations than XX and XY, for example XXY, (0.1% of "males"), XXYY males, XXX females, XYY (0.1% of "males"), XY females (androgen insensitivity), XX males, etc etc.

Basically just because the XX/XY system is taught in high school biology doesn't mean gender is that simple. Furthermore, no matter how many sex chromosome combos there are, there is no simple map between your sex chromosome count and your physical characteristics. Thanks to the incredibly complex process of gene expression, the biology of gender is *much more complicated* than that.

You yourself could easily have been born an intersex individual who underwent sex-reassignment surgery at birth without your knowledge. Does that make you insane to think that you're male? Of course not, because a huge part of gender is what you feel about yourself.

The fact is, gender is a societal construct based on physical characteristics, one of the least important of which is the morphology of your genitalia - think about all the people who you think of as male or female, and think about how many of their genitalia you've seen. How did you decide to think of them as male or female? Probably because of the way they presented themselves, or the way they chose to identify themselves.

It seems like you have a model about how gender works (MALE | FEMALE), and the real world isn't fitting into that model. It's time to get a new model.
posted by Salvor Hardin at 10:19 AM on November 4, 2010 [25 favorites]


Please change the gender of each one of your online profiles now. Come on, it doesn't matter. It's just a dropdown field. No one looks at it.

I have changed my metafilter account to say "F++". I will call my loved ones to let them know what I've filled out on a website.
posted by unixrat at 10:20 AM on November 4, 2010


Everyone, including me, has either two X chromosomes and is female, or one X chromosome and they're not.

Every woman in this picture has a Y chromosome. Not because they're MTF, but because they have Androgen insensitivity syndrome. Are you going to tell them they're not women?

Aphallia is a condition where a genetic male can be born without a penis - that child is usually reared as a girl. If that child's brain is still wired to be more masculine than his body, what is he to do? He was assigned the life of a girl by forces outside of his control. Doesn't he get a say in the matter?

Those exmples are just a couple of the many ways a person can qualify as intersex - what they as individuals identify as when it comes to gender is, of course, their own decision. It's dehumanizing and unfair to tell them (and anyone else who doesn't identify as completely male or completely female) that they have to conform to a binary.

Why don't you take a step back and acknowledge that gender is more complex, biologically and socially speaking, than you are currently aware?
posted by The demon that lives in the air at 10:20 AM on November 4, 2010 [4 favorites]


At some point, isn't it the responsibility of society to push back and say that, "Yes, you really are a female?"

conceivably, but how have society and DeviantART suddenly become one and the same?

Must say, I'm enjoying this thread way too much, particularly as it really does seem to be a simple situation where some asshole (congregation of thereof) in marketing has decided that the advertisers NEED to know who's got a willy and who doesn't trumps all other concerns. And as such, it has become site policy to demand a straight binary answer to the question of gender. And needless to say, this simple policy change has had a very complicated effect on things, rippling as it has not just through DeviantART's users but also through its various employees, contractors, etc who have to deal with them.

Which gets to situations where a sysadmin guy (?) such as unixrat ends up hating humanity even more than he used to, no doubt inspiring him to go that extra mile to make sure all customers demands are respected, honored, responded to.
posted by philip-random at 10:22 AM on November 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


unixrat: well, if they didn't care, then they could have left it blank or accepted "other/prefer not to say". It's just pure lazyness on their part.

The marketing people care, no one else does. I don't know why we care what marketers think or why anyone is so concerned about giving them correct information.
posted by unixrat at 10:22 AM on November 4, 2010


- Everyone, including me, has either two X chromosomes and is female, or one X chromosome and they're not.

Some links for you, SilentPundit:

XXY - Klinefelter's Syndrome

XXX - Triple X Syndrome
XYY Syndrome
X - Turner Syndrome
XXYY Syndrome

And, just for funsies, Androgen Insensitivity Syndrome, which is not chromosomal but is pretty damned interesting.
posted by harperpitt at 10:22 AM on November 4, 2010 [6 favorites]


it just gets of my nerves when they can't understand what a profoundly abstract idea that is for 99% of people

Yeah, can I please not be required to care about anything that doesn't affect at least 20% of the population? Surely you're just being dramatic if there aren't at least a couple people in my circle of acquaintances who have a similar situation?
posted by straight at 10:26 AM on November 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


silentpundit: In any case, there's absolutely no certainty that a human can be 'born with differently gendered brains and genitals.'

Drexen: Inasfar as it's useful to talk about "certainty" when talking about issues that relate to psychology, yes, there is scientific certainty.


... although you are right that a lot of the issues that cause this to be so important to so many people would be ameliorated or even solved, if we lived in a society that didn't have extremely rigid, fundamental, and far-reaching reactions to gender. However since such a society is a long way off, these issues continue to be very important to anyone who doesn't fit the 'standard' mould. This is why it's painful when these concerns are dismissed as madness, disgusting, pretentious, and so on and so forth.

It hurts even more keenly because that dismissal and the urge to ridicule, villify and single out people who don't perform gender in standard, approved ways, is not so very far removed from the urges that cause certain people, in the right circumstances, to resort to abuse, violence, torture and murder.
posted by Drexen at 10:29 AM on November 4, 2010 [3 favorites]


Everyone, including me, has either two X chromosomes and is female, or one X chromosome and they're not.

I know everyone already told you you're wrong, but you're wrong and you should be embarrassed. This is basic biology, one that many children know. Until you have reached an understanding of biology approaching that of a somewhat bright tween, you should avoid asserting your superior knowledge of these things. Thank you.
posted by Gandhi Knoxville at 10:31 AM on November 4, 2010 [3 favorites]


It hurts even more keenly because that dismissal and the urge to ridicule, villify and single out people who don't perform gender in standard, approved ways, is not so very far removed from the urges that cause certain people, in the right circumstances, to resort to abuse, violence, torture and murder.

(... of LGBT people, just to be clear).
posted by Drexen at 10:33 AM on November 4, 2010


I enjoy bolded, all-caps explanations about how people don't care about things.
posted by ServSci at 10:36 AM on November 4, 2010 [2 favorites]


Would it make people happy to just have numerical X Chromosome and Y Chrom fields?

Number of X: 3
Number of Y: -1

Which gets to situations where a sysadmin guy (?) such as unixrat ends up hating humanity even more than he used to, no doubt inspiring him to go that extra mile to make sure all customers demands are respected, honored, responded to.

Do you have any idea of the sheer number of requests like this that arise from complex systems? After dealing with lots (lots and lots and lots) I can tell you that each one is a potential 200-reply Metafilter thread with people posting X and Y chromosome counts. Toss those into a business environment and feel utterly justified in viewing these requests as ticking time bombs. After just a few, a person's Spidey-sense begins to tingle when running into someone who insists on making a mountain out of a marketing checkbox molehill.

As your hypothetical sysadmin, I don't care about any of your personal characteristics. Stop being horrible users. Just pick one. I promise you it's completely irrelevant.
posted by unixrat at 10:36 AM on November 4, 2010


Easy Solution:

New deviantART registration page

Gender you would like displayed on your profile page [___________] (freeform text box)

Gender you would prefer your ads targeted for: [ ] Male; [ ] Female (you must select one so we can generate enough revenue to keep the site going)
posted by straight at 10:39 AM on November 4, 2010 [7 favorites]


Do you have any idea of the sheer number of requests like this that arise from complex systems?

If it's such a GIGANTIC HORRIBLE PROBLEM OH GOD WOE IS US POOR DOWNTRODDEN SYSADMINS why the fuck wouldn't you (a hypothetical sysadmin) just remove the gender label from the signup process?

As your hypothetical sysadmin, I don't care about any of your personal characteristics. Stop being horrible users. Just pick one. I promise you it's completely irrelevant.

Well I guess if it's irrelevant to YOU, I guess everyone will just stop caring about it...wait, no, that's stupid - if it's so irrelevant, remove it from the system.
posted by Salvor Hardin at 10:41 AM on November 4, 2010 [2 favorites]


"...the tiny, narrowly-defined boxes of either male or female..."On the contrary, I think those boxes are actually pretty large and loosely defined. (See the recent media hubbub over the pregnant "man.")
posted by BurntHombre at 10:41 AM on November 4, 2010


So the complexity of gender is stupid because you have too much work to do and lack a proper manager to filter your work load?

It's been said many times in this thread: Just leave the option to NOT have a gender there.


Using your own example, it would be equally stupid system design to force a user to select a single basic ethnicity from a list of 6 or 7.
It's indefensible. It's crappy system design. Period.

Here's to hoping you one day get a good manager and are frustrated at the world less.
posted by Theta States at 10:42 AM on November 4, 2010


New deviantART registration page

Gender you would like displayed on your profile page [___________] (freeform text box)

Gender you would prefer your ads targeted for: [ ] Male; [ ] Female (you must select one so we can generate enough revenue to keep the site going)


This is a simple, clear request that would solve the problem.

Now write up a change-request, submit it, defend the changes in a design review, submit the database change request, talk to legal to get the correct phrasing, make the change in a test environment, send the change through QA, get approval, push the change to production.

Whoops, that's not you, that's me.

OR you can just check the damn box and it's like an early Christmas present for your poor sysadmin.
posted by unixrat at 10:44 AM on November 4, 2010


Christmas Present in no way represents the hand of the Patriarchal Judeo-Christian Influence. Perhaps one could smile at the sysadmin in a friendly, professional, non-confrontational way for a limited amount of time.
posted by unixrat at 10:46 AM on November 4, 2010


Now write up a change-request, submit it, defend the changes in a design review, submit the database change request, talk to legal to get the correct phrasing, make the change in a test environment, send the change through QA, get approval, push the change to production.

Whoops, that's not you, that's me.


Nope, that sounds like me too. That's pretty much my job.
And you know what? That's OUR JOB. That's what we get paid to do. Yeesh.
We get it, you don't like your job, fine.
posted by Theta States at 10:48 AM on November 4, 2010 [7 favorites]


I promise you it's completely irrelevant.

Again: this is only true if you have no regard for how you appear to people who read your profile, in which case, why bother with a profile at all? The fact is, pretty much everyone can experience various consequences of how/whether they list their gender, especially if they aren't male, straight and/or cis. It's easy for you to dismiss that, but harder for others. Sorry if those concerns cause us to be such a pain in the ass to you, but really, that's an inevitable part of having to deal with humans.
posted by Drexen at 10:48 AM on November 4, 2010


This is a simple, clear request that would solve the problem.

Now write up a change-request, submit it, defend the changes in a design review, submit the database change request, talk to legal to get the correct phrasing, make the change in a test environment, send the change through QA, get approval, push the change to production.

Based on your description, this sounds like it would be an easier option for you than dealing with all those whiny intersex people.
posted by Salvor Hardin at 10:49 AM on November 4, 2010 [5 favorites]


You know whose opinions nobody should care about? Angry sysadmins. I mean they're what, like 0.01% of the population? Probably even less. That's pretty much negligible. I mean, if you want to self-identify as an angry sysadmin, then that doesn't bother me, but there's no reason to act like your thoughts have any weight that should impact the rest of us. Just quiet down already.
posted by Faint of Butt at 10:49 AM on November 4, 2010 [20 favorites]


OR you can just check the damn box and it's like an early Christmas present for your poor sysadmin.

you know what, maybe get a different job.
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 10:49 AM on November 4, 2010 [8 favorites]


It seems like you have a model about how gender works (MALE | FEMALE), and the real world isn't fitting into that model. It's time to get a new model.

Well first of all, it's not just my model, but pretty much the entire world's model. Fundamentally so. I'm all for second-guessing the framework given to us by our predecessors, but at a certain point, you start re-inventing wheels and throwing out babies with the bathwater.

And I of course understand that genetically, there is no male/female binary value. It's an emergent function of a complex interplay of genes. But just because hair color doesn't actually resolve to blond/brunette/redhead, doesn't mean it isn't useful to simplify the choices to those ratings. It's much easier to identify someone with 'gray hair' than a Pantone value or something.

It feels like I'm saying, 'this object in my hand is a key.' And you're saying, 'no dude, that thing is a clump of molecules. You know, lots of clumps of molecules aren't keys. Therefore this tendency of yours to name things that look like they open doors 'keys' is really-narrow minded. Time to get a new model of the world.' Like, yeah, I guess technically you're right, and there's only such thing as a 'key' because we collectively agree on the concept. But I'm saying, maybe that lack of everyday clarity is a good thing. It's all contextual.

And I need to be specific here: I'm saying that human gender resolves to male female. You could argue that bees have a gender set of queen/drone/worker. Unicellular life is not gendered at all. And of course reality at large has no concept of gender. It's not like I want to think of things in male/female terms.

Let me ask you this: is it narrow-minded every time a zoologist proclaims a peacock with bright plumage as 'male' even without examining its genitalia? It's not like the zoologist is doing it because he thinks only males deserve the fancy colors, or something. Through observation we know that male peacocks display their plumage to vie to be selected by peahens for mating. Should we abandon that model, too, just because it's possible (even likely) that there are some anomalous peacocks out there that manifest bright plumage through genetic anomalies even though they are actually female?
posted by silentpundit at 10:51 AM on November 4, 2010


I'd be more supportive I guess if this person didn't sound so, oh, I dunno, "faux" or "arch," maybe.

In the world we're stuck in, choosing to identify male or female is a choice this person frequently has to make. We might wish it was not, but in many different public accommodations from a driver's license to a restroom, they are quite frequently going to be forced in to this choice.

Now, if they said "this is supposed to be a welcoming place, why am I getting fucked with even here?" that's understandable. If they said "treat me as a member of a community, not as a piece of marketing data," it'd be laudable.

But this pretense of "you fools, do you not understand that this is impossible to answer?" makes me sort of eye-roll.

As for the CSR, why do we presume that they actually know "hermaphrodite" is offensive? That may be the most polite word they know. They may never have heard the word "intersexed" (which is just as presumptuous about trinary as male/female is about binary). That CSR may have patted themselves on the back for not being judgmental and saying "he-she freak" but using the polite word instead. Why assume malice, when ignorance is so widespread?
posted by tyllwin at 10:51 AM on November 4, 2010 [4 favorites]


Now write up a change-request, submit it, defend the changes in a design review, submit the database change request, talk to legal to get the correct phrasing, make the change in a test environment, send the change through QA, get approval, push the change to production.

Whoops, that's not you, that's me.


Man! That… All that almost sounds like a job.
posted by dudekiller at 10:52 AM on November 4, 2010 [5 favorites]


silentpundit: td;dr version: I don't understand the world, so the world that doesn't conform to my lack of understanding is ridiculous, amirite?

Nice. Thanks for that. Now I see that I've been entirely too dismissive of other points of view. Thanks for leading by example on that one.
posted by silentpundit at 10:53 AM on November 4, 2010


Using your own example, it would be equally stupid system design to force a user to select a single basic ethnicity from a list of 6 or 7.
It's indefensible. It's crappy system design. Period.


Hey, I totally agree. But please people, have some consideration for those of us caught between the irresistable force of the Gender Identity Crisis and the immovable object of Marketing and Legal departments.

Marketing doesn't care unless you have tons of money. Scream all you want. Make my life as miserable as you want. It will change nothing. That's not how marketing works.

Please, for the love of Your Personal Deity If You Have One, just check the damn box.
posted by unixrat at 10:55 AM on November 4, 2010


Let me ask you this: is it narrow-minded every time a zoologist proclaims a peacock with bright plumage as 'male' even without examining its genitalia?

I don't know, I'd need to know more to answer. How many times has this peacock explained patiently to me that it is entirely aware that we tend to think of brightly-plumed peacocks as male, but it is not, and even if we don't understand that it requests that we please respect its agency?

Do you have any more false equivalencies to vomit up or are you maybe ready to admit that you mostly just find people outside the binary gender norm to be icky?
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 10:55 AM on November 4, 2010 [4 favorites]


Nice. Thanks for that. Now I see that I've been entirely too dismissive of other points of view. Thanks for leading by example on that one.

Talk about leading by example .....
posted by blucevalo at 10:56 AM on November 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


silentpundit, your writings here have been outright dismissive of the last 30 years of gender theory, so I think it's fair to say you've been dismissive straight out of the gate.
Seriously. You came in here and started tossing around status quo gender assumptions and high-school biology as if it was gospel, and expect everyone else to unravel every assumption you've laid out, but which has been thoroughly unraveled so much better elsewhere many many times over.
posted by Theta States at 10:57 AM on November 4, 2010 [4 favorites]


It feels like I'm saying, 'this object in my hand is a key.' And you're saying, 'no dude, that thing is a clump of molecules. You know, lots of clumps of molecules aren't keys. Therefore this tendency of yours to name things that look like they open doors 'keys' is really-narrow minded. Time to get a new model of the world.'

Yes, the definition of a "key" is fairly clear. The problem with that comparison to this situation is twofold - first of all, you are not doing the key any harm by calling it a key, because the key has no concept of itself. A human being has a mental concept of itself, and denying that concept causes mental and social harm.

The other problem is that it's just not a very good analogy. A better analogy would be this - reach into that drawer under your desk and pull out a handful of things - there are probably keys, pens, paperclips, rubberbands, etc. Now call all of those things "keys". That would be stupid, right? Obviously they're not all keys.

People are not all male or female. It would simplify things if they were, but they're not, and the only "evidence" to the contrary is outdated science and social stigma.
posted by Salvor Hardin at 10:57 AM on November 4, 2010 [3 favorites]


whatever
posted by The Lady is a designer at 11:00 AM on November 4, 2010 [2 favorites]


Marketing doesn't care unless you have tons of money. Scream all you want. Make my life as miserable as you want. It will change nothing. That's not how marketing works.

Please let me know what company you work for so I can never ever ever work there. If the marketing department has so much sway over the construction of the user database, it sounds like a terrifying place to be.
In the context of DeviantArt, I am not sure how this kind of marketing proposal to have the option to leave it blank was ever passed. Sounds like a failure of the review process.
posted by Theta States at 11:00 AM on November 4, 2010


well, you better hope you have a good keyboard.

I have a Model M. The best keyboard.

Now write up a change-request, submit it, defend the changes in a design review, submit the database change request, talk to legal to get the correct phrasing, make the change in a test environment, send the change through QA, get approval, push the change to production.

So, in other words, doing your job? Boo fucking hoo. Guess what, I'm also a sysadmin. And DBA. And developer. And office IT. (That one I will bitch about. Give me ten databases to refactor. I'd rather do that then debug the fucking printer.) And shit like that is our job.
posted by kmz at 11:02 AM on November 4, 2010 [2 favorites]


... although you are right that a lot of the issues that cause this to be so important to so many people would be ameliorated or even solved, if we lived in a society that didn't have extremely rigid, fundamental, and far-reaching reactions to gender. However since such a society is a long way off, these issues continue to be very important to anyone who doesn't fit the 'standard' mould. This is why it's painful when these concerns are dismissed as madness, disgusting, pretentious, and so on and so forth.

'Disgusting' and 'pretentious' are value judgements. 'Madness' has a negative connotation. I do feel like, if you can call out bulemia as a 'disorder,' then surely you can do the same for such identity misplacement that it causes daily unhappiness in the afflicted, even though their lives are otherwise normal.
posted by silentpundit at 11:04 AM on November 4, 2010


But we should remember, everyone needs a hug.

or is that only in metatalk?
posted by Salvor Hardin at 11:04 AM on November 4, 2010


why the fuck wouldn't you (a hypothetical sysadmin) just remove the gender label from the signup process?

ummm, because marketing wouldn't stand for it. And like it or not, marketing is completely concerned with making sure there's cash flow. Not saying they're right to demand the male/female choice, but the fact that they are is just that: a fact.

unixrat, sorry if my earlier comment came off as too flip/insensitive. I have worked in I.T. I'm familiar with how MAD it can be to be a sysadmin (ie: responsible for making the machines do all the diverse and crazy things that various competing humans want them to, and then changing it all back two weeks later because the boss had an epiphany). But that said, I've also got busloads of experience as a user, a Joe-Public type who has learned to NOT trust what the machine wants. That is, it may be binary but I'm not. I contain multitudes. That your system is troubled by this is the system's fault, not mine. That said, the problem of what to do about it belongs to both of us.
posted by philip-random at 11:05 AM on November 4, 2010


Hey, I totally agree. But please people, have some consideration for those of us caught between the irresistable force of the Gender Identity Crisis and the immovable object of Marketing and Legal departments.

Marketing doesn't care unless you have tons of money. Scream all you want. Make my life as miserable as you want. It will change nothing. That's not how marketing works.

Please, for the love of Your Personal Deity If You Have One, just check the damn box.


If your work flow goes through that many layers, I don't even understand why you care what the users do. The change requests won't even get to you unless they get through Marketing and Legal first.
posted by kmz at 11:09 AM on November 4, 2010


So, in other words, doing your job? Boo fucking hoo. Guess what, I'm also a sysadmin. And DBA. And developer. And office IT. (That one I will bitch about. Give me ten databases to refactor. I'd rather do that then debug the fucking printer.) And shit like that is our job.

I agree man. It is our job.

And I'm pleading with everyone: Please, not every checkbox is worth fighting over. Especially one on a sign-up form. Please. Call your representative, call your pastor, call Google Advertising, go on a hunger strike. Call anyone in a position of power to affect a social change about this issue.

But please do not wage it in a checkbox-by-checkbox Stalingrad-esque battle, house to house, webform to webform. I am the soldier that gets chewed up in that pointless, bloody battle.
posted by unixrat at 11:13 AM on November 4, 2010


I know everyone already told you you're wrong, but you're wrong and you should be embarrassed. This is basic biology, one that many children know. Until you have reached an understanding of biology approaching that of a somewhat bright tween, you should avoid asserting your superior knowledge of these things. Thank you.

I will take on good faith that you will take it on good faith that I am not lying when I say that I am not an idiot, and have heard of atypical sex chromosome disorders.

Since they're very rare, and inhibit reproductive viability, though, they are not exactly vibrant and characteristic features of the human race, now are they?
posted by silentpundit at 11:14 AM on November 4, 2010


I promise you it's completely irrelevant.

But it's not completely irrelevent to people on a social networking site.

Take Wossname's situation for example:

As a trans person (FTM), indicating my gender online was a huge issue for me. Not because I identified as a 3rd/other gender, but because if I put down "male," I'd out myself to my old friends who didn't yet know I was trans, and if I put down "female," I'd out myself to my new friends, who only ever saw me as male.

Yes the gender/sex thing is a tool being used by marketers, but it's also a tool being used by other humans in order to inform their interactions with a specific user.
posted by edbles at 11:15 AM on November 4, 2010 [6 favorites]


For those interested in the specifics of the dA situation. It is actually a little weird. I couldn't remember if they asked for "sex" or "gender" or whatever, so I checked. Turns out when I set this up years ago, I chose "unspecified" as my gender. I have no idea why, I assume to maintain a minimal anonymity.

so this is what it looks like:
Personal Information

Gender : |unspecified|
deviantART no longer has "unspecified" as a gender option. If you choose to change your gender from "unspecified" you will be unable to change it back.

Gender Display: |show|
I dunno. It does seem weird doesn't it. I have the thing the linked OP wanted.
posted by ServSci at 11:16 AM on November 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


But please do not wage it in a checkbox-by-checkbox Stalingrad-esque battle, house to house, webform to webform. I am the soldier that gets chewed up in that pointless, bloody battle.

This is not Usenet in 1998, you are not the BOFH, and please believe me when I say that the people at DA actually affected by this are the policymakers, and by the time the impact of it hits either you or someone like you, it will come down to a couple lines of code if that - or in this case, restoring the functionality they'd previously included.

It's fine to implore us not to shoot the messenger, but I assure you that nobody was even suggesting that we do.

It's not that I don't understand your concerns but you kind of need to understand how it comes off when someone says that their non-binary gender identity has been minimized by a major commercial organization and they were subsequently insulted by the support staff they dealt with (and for the record I believe the poster in question was a bit overwrought in their approach) and you begin braying that the sysadmins are the real victims here. And I'm sure that's not what you mean but it's really how you sound.
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 11:18 AM on November 4, 2010 [4 favorites]


I do feel like, if you can call out bulemia as a 'disorder,' then surely you can do the same for such identity misplacement that it causes daily unhappiness in the afflicted, even though their lives are otherwise normal.

If I have daily unhappiness because I am a homosexual, even though my life is "otherwise normal," does that fit into your schema of those who should be called "disordered" as well? Is it sorta the same thing Ken Buck said when he asserted that gayness is basically equivalent to alcoholism and should be treated as such by society?
posted by blucevalo at 11:19 AM on November 4, 2010 [2 favorites]


Wouldn't it be possible to target advertising at people who decline to state their gender? (I'm not sure what you'd try to sell to us... but there has to be something.)
posted by madcaptenor at 11:19 AM on November 4, 2010


Yes, the definition of a "key" is fairly clear. The problem with that comparison to this situation is twofold - first of all, you are not doing the key any harm by calling it a key, because the key has no concept of itself. A human being has a mental concept of itself, and denying that concept causes mental and social harm.

The other problem is that it's just not a very good analogy. A better analogy would be this - reach into that drawer under your desk and pull out a handful of things - there are probably keys, pens, paperclips, rubberbands, etc. Now call all of those things "keys". That would be stupid, right? Obviously they're not all keys.

People are not all male or female. It would simplify things if they were, but they're not, and the only "evidence" to the contrary is outdated science and social stigma.


It really feels like there is a great deal of bleed-through between very different contexts of 'gender.'

I'm talking about objective reality, not subjective self-identity. Let's push aside the entire gender identity issue.

If the deviantART drop-down is asking only in the reproductive, biological sense of the word, what are you actually saying the choices would be?

XY / XX / XXY / XXX / XYY / X / XXYY?
posted by silentpundit at 11:23 AM on November 4, 2010


(I'm not sure what you'd try to sell to us... but there has to be something.)

Coca Cola - I've seen it in villages in deepest Africa and remote South East Asian islands.

this whole thread has gotten surreal. its more about excel spreadsheets and demographics than the issues around wondering why when we are all able to ponder deep thoughts and count a gazillion beans, are we being evaluated based on the physical body in which the soul (a spark of the infinite fire) has found a temporary home?

yes Salvor Hardin, hugs should be allowed on the blue Grar as well
posted by The Lady is a designer at 11:23 AM on November 4, 2010


unixrat: But please do not wage it in a checkbox-by-checkbox Stalingrad-esque battle, house to house, webform to webform. I am the soldier that gets chewed up in that pointless, bloody battle.

How so? You should only be implementing changes that have gone through your multi-tiered change request/approval process. Simple!



silentpundit: Since they're very rare, and inhibit reproductive viability, though, they are not exactly vibrant and characteristic features of the human race, now are they?

Inhibit reproductive viability? not exactly vibrant? Oh dear lord, here we go.
posted by Theta States at 11:24 AM on November 4, 2010


(I'm not sure what you'd try to sell to us... but there has to be something.)

Books about gender identity and privacy in the modern era.
posted by edbles at 11:26 AM on November 4, 2010 [3 favorites]


It's kind of sad how I am enjoying this thread drama today.

In general, I agree that we don't necessarily need to divide everyone into M&F, especially on the Internet and especially if it's to please marketers.

But while I agree with the linkwriter's cause, their tone of voice sure as fuck put me off. The second the kid whined that deviantART doesn't care about dead gay teenagers, I was all, "wha....??? Where did that inference come from?" And then more drama bomb exploded and I was actually feeling sorry for the deviantART folks who had to deal with the progressively pissier e-mails going on. SHEESH.

And just to make this thread REAL fun, here's the Onion link!
posted by jenfullmoon at 11:26 AM on November 4, 2010



why the fuck wouldn't you (a hypothetical sysadmin) just remove the gender label from the signup process?


As a data point, at either of the 2 Fortune 100 companies where I've done IT work, that hypothetical sysadmin would be fired.

It's not his job to make changes to a production database's structure. Even if his responsibilities were expanded to make him the DBA, it's not solely up to him to make changes that could impact applications beyond the DB itself. Suppose that cowboy DB change causes the website to display improperly or worse, to reveal info that was not supposed to be public?

Even if he's the only IT guy, it's not up to him alone. Maybe by doing so he's now put the company in breach of a contract to display advertising that's specifically targeted? And now someone sues to recoup what they paid?

Even if he can be sure that's not he case, it's still a business decision, and not an IT decision. Maybe the damn CEO is fine with alienating some percentage of users in order to attract some percentage of advertisers. Maybe s/he even views it as a simple way to weed out some undesirably needy snowflake customers. S/he may be wrong, but it's not a sysadmin's job to make that call.
posted by tyllwin at 11:26 AM on November 4, 2010


silentpundit : I do feel like, if you can call out bulemia as a 'disorder,' then surely you can do the same for such identity misplacement that it causes daily unhappiness in the afflicted, even though their lives are otherwise normal.

Gender Identity Disorder is listed in the DSM as a disorder, because it's a condition someone is born/grows into, rather than something they choose; and it causes distress, because of how it clashes with society's expectations with regards to gender. I think we can agree with that classification.

Where we apparently disagree, though, is over the idea that because of that classification, we can equate the diversity of possible gender identities/expressions as a delusion or fantasy, like a paranoid's fear of persecution. I hope that you can see why they're different, but if not, it's because:

a) It is not possible to classify someone's gender identity as "incorrect" in the same way as we can assert that the CIA isn't persecuting the paranoid guy, because gender is subjective, variable by culture, and strictly internal. Anyone with any knowledge of the science on this issue is aware that it's not as simple as XY=penis=male; XX=vagina=female.
b) 'Cures' for GID are equally as barbaric and ineffective as 'cures' for homosexuality, and share many misguided principles.
c) Most of the actual harm caused by GID can be solved -- as you suggest -- by adjusting society's reactions towards gender identity and expression, and this is preferable to trying to 'fix' something fundamental to a person's neurochemistry and identity.
d) Trying to stamp out variance in gender/sexuality, whether it's to "help disordered people," "serve the needs of society," "stamp out perversion," or whatever other justification, is Just Plain Wrong and Evil, as far as such concepts hold water.

Queer people are not just causing trouble because it's fun or for frivolous vanity. It isn't fun. It is gruelling, soul-sucking and depressing, and it cuts to your core, so much so that it's driven countless queer people to suicide. So, thank you for discussing this openly and listening to the arguments being raised here, and making it a little bit easier.
posted by Drexen at 11:27 AM on November 4, 2010 [3 favorites]


Coca Cola - I've seen it in villages in deepest Africa and remote South East Asian islands.

yes, but would you sell us regular Coke, diet Coke, or Coke Zero?

(also, who said hugs aren't allowed on the blue?)
posted by madcaptenor at 11:27 AM on November 4, 2010


I'm not sure what you'd try to sell to us... but there has to be something.

Wigs.
posted by Gator at 11:27 AM on November 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


If I have daily unhappiness because I am a homosexual, even though my life is "otherwise normal," does that fit into your schema of those who should be called "disordered" as well? Is it sorta the same thing Ken Buck said when he asserted that gayness is basically equivalent to alcoholism and should be treated as such by society?

Homosexuals are actively persecuted, though. They are specifically called out on codified laws of the land. That is a travesty and even Ken Buck should agree on that one.

This is someone getting mad because of a drop-down on deviantART. They are not exactly a persecuted minority.

Life may be hard for them, but life is hard for people who are different than most others. Not much can be done about that.
posted by silentpundit at 11:27 AM on November 4, 2010


If the deviantART drop-down is asking only in the reproductive, biological sense of the word, what are you actually saying the choices would be?

The options would be: GENDER: Male / Femae / Unspecified
Just like it used to be.
posted by Theta States at 11:29 AM on November 4, 2010 [2 favorites]


Life may be hard for them, but life is hard for people who are different than most others. Not much can be done about that.

We will have to agree to disagree on that point.
posted by Theta States at 11:33 AM on November 4, 2010


This is someone getting mad because of a drop-down on deviantART. They are not exactly a persecuted minority.

Business' often respond quicker to changing social norms than governments and civil institutions do. My health insurance provider, for example, recognizes a same sex spouse and will cover them. My state does no such thing. So arguing with CSRs is absolutely a fine avenue to start with in order to get your gender identity recognized. Changing social norms happens on a variety of levels.
posted by edbles at 11:38 AM on November 4, 2010 [3 favorites]


silentpundit: "Since they're very rare, and inhibit reproductive viability, though, they are not exactly vibrant and characteristic features of the human race, now are they?"

wut
posted by workerant at 11:40 AM on November 4, 2010


This is someone getting mad because of a drop-down on deviantART. They are not exactly a persecuted minority.

yeah, people outside the binary-gender norm never have to face persecution or prejudice. or getting beaten to death. or anything.

and the only thing this person got mad about was a drop-down on deviantart, not the fact that it is yet another symptom of marginalization which they face every day and are probably pretty sick of at this point.

and they certainly don't have to deal with smug blowhards insisting that a man who gets implants and cuts his dick off is not a woman but a mutilated man - but even if they did have to hear that shit constantly from a steady stream of people who are convinced they're the first to point it out, i'm sure it would only get increasingly fun to hear.
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 11:43 AM on November 4, 2010 [5 favorites]


Also I see that "It's just that one checkbox/form/person telling you your in the wrong dressing room SIR" argument in threads a lot. It seems to miss the point that it's not just the one. The system is not setup to accommodate people who don't fit. So finally you run into the one checkbox or one person that you stop letting it slide with and you hold their feet to the fire to make up for all the times you shrugged it off.
posted by edbles at 11:44 AM on November 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


a) It is not possible to classify someone's gender identity as "incorrect" in the same way as we can assert that the CIA isn't persecuting the paranoid guy, because gender is subjective, variable by culture, and strictly internal. Anyone with any knowledge of the science on this issue is aware that it's not as simple as XY=penis=male; XX=vagina=female.

This is the only point upon which we disagree. While yes, not 100% of humans fall neatly into XX/XY, it is so obviously tending toward 100% that you can hardly claim those anomalies are valid genders. Based on the article you linked to for XXX, (I apologize for not having time to look at the rest right now, but I will,) only 0.00005% of the human race is born with that particular disorder.

Meanwhile, 1 in 733 live births resulted in a Down's Syndrome baby in 2006 in the US. That's 0.0014%. If 0.00005% is significant enough incidence to start talking about more than 2 genders, then do we need to rise up against the notion that humans have 23 pairs of chromosomes? Or maybe Down's Syndrome sufferers are not human, since they violate that 'high-school biology' rule?

More importantly, we both know that the gender disassociation movement has nothing to do with chromosomal abnormalities. It has everything to do with societal conflict. How many outspoken gender disassociatives actually have these chromosomal disorders?

a) It is not possible to classify someone's gender identity as "incorrect" in the same way as we can assert that the CIA isn't persecuting the paranoid guy, because gender is subjective, variable by culture, and strictly internal. Anyone with any knowledge of the science on this issue is aware that it's not as simple as XY=penis=male; XX=vagina=female.

b) 'Cures' for GID are equally as barbaric and ineffective as 'cures' for homosexuality, and share many misguided principles.
c) Most of the actual harm caused by GID can be solved -- as you suggest -- by adjusting society's reactions towards gender identity and expression, and this is preferable to trying to 'fix' something fundamental to a person's neurochemistry and identity.
d) Trying to stamp out variance in gender/sexuality, whether it's to "help disordered people," "serve the needs of society," "stamp out perversion," or whatever other justification, is Just Plain Wrong and Evil, as far as such concepts hold water.


Agreed, agreed, agreed. I'm not saying anyone should be involuntarily 'fixed.' Never said it once. Every human's rights and essential dignity are to be upheld by all, at all times, even the infirm and unproductive.

Queer people are not just causing trouble because it's fun or for frivolous vanity. It isn't fun. It is gruelling, soul-sucking and depressing, and it cuts to your core, so much so that it's driven countless queer people to suicide. So, thank you for discussing this openly and listening to the arguments being raised here, and making it a little bit easier.

Thank you for not assuming I am some kind of bigot, and for the good-faith back-and-forth. I am already feeling enriched for being given interactive access to your perspective. Seriously. Decorum fist-bump!
posted by silentpundit at 11:47 AM on November 4, 2010


They are not exactly a persecuted minority.

Are you fucking kidding me? Non-cisgendered people are so marginalized that sometimes they're persecuted even within the LGBT community. Laws aren't explicitly discriminatory against them only because they don't even allow for the possibility of their existence.
posted by kmz at 11:48 AM on November 4, 2010 [12 favorites]


silentpundit : "Since they're very rare, and inhibit reproductive viability, though, they are not exactly vibrant and characteristic features of the human race, now are they?"

Yeah. This, though, is straight-up BS, silentpundit. Queerness (of all kinds) certainly adds diversity - vibrancy - to the human race, expands the breadth of human experience, adds perspectives that can help our collective understanding of certain issues, and so on and so forth. This variety of experience is entirely characteristic of the human race. Not being in the majority is irrelevant.

As for the crack about "inhibiting reproductive viability," it's really much more of a stretch than might seem obvious at first glance. If you dig into the issue, looking at modern research, I think you'll find that it's really not as simple as the naive, childish view that "homosexuality is maladaptive". Even if it were true, guess what? It would still be grossly offensive because decent humans don't judge each other on reproductive suitability.

So please consider re-evaluating that viewpoint.
posted by Drexen at 11:50 AM on November 4, 2010 [4 favorites]


How many outspoken gender disassociatives actually have these chromosomal disorders?

Many, why do you ask?
posted by Theta States at 11:52 AM on November 4, 2010


Drexen: naive, childish

Ahem. I should better have said, "outdated, overly-simple". Apologies.
posted by Drexen at 11:53 AM on November 4, 2010


Disclaimer: I do think that the user's request for an "Other" option is fairly reasonable. I also think that deviantart is in the wrong here for not taking this person's concerns more seriously. At the very least, even if they had no intent of making any kind of change, they should have apologized and been sympathetic.

Having said that, I have an amazingly hard time sympathizing with anyone whose reaction to a situation like this is to start sending in support ticket after support ticket, angrily demanding their way. If they didn't like the response that they got from the first person to help them (and yes, that second mail that the CSR sent out was amazingly rude), the reasonable, adult thing to do is to request to speak with a supervisor, and calmly explain the situation to that person. I guarantee that will make the support staff much more responsive to any situation than directing anger and outrage towards them.

In short, I'm torn, because I honestly think that this person has a fairly reasonable request and that deviantart handled the matter poorly. But statements like, "You have not answered my question: Why is your site called deviantART if you do not welcome deviants?" do not help the situation, and just make this person come off as someone who is more interested in complaining and stoking their own outrage than in honestly resolving their problem.
posted by Katrel at 11:53 AM on November 4, 2010 [2 favorites]


For those who are talking about the OP being too rude or too argumentative. Read this. Or just google "tone argument". Please.
posted by kmz at 11:57 AM on November 4, 2010 [2 favorites]


silentpundit: Homosexuals are actively persecuted, though. They are specifically called out on codified laws of the land. That is a travesty and even Ken Buck should agree on that one.

I'm not sure how it is that you acknowledge that gays are an actively persecuted minority and then assert that intersex people are not one. The issue, by the way, is not merely "someone getting mad because of a drop-down on deviantART." You say that certain characteristics are not "vibrant and characteristic features of the human race." You imply that the only choice for those who carry such characteristics is to conform, even if conformity is impossible. I'm really not seeing how that's any different from asking gays to conform as well.

Intersex people are also "called out on codified laws of the land." If they are not called out, it's not from lack of trying, it's because so many legislators are still ignorant of their very existence that when they find out that they do exist they freak. A Republican PAC chairman called a trans woman, Brittany Novotny, who was running for the state legislature in Oklahoma, a "confused it." He followed that up with: "I could have used the word eunuch, but the word 'it' was not intended to be derogatory. It is simply intended to describe really what she is now."

Katrel: If they didn't like the response that they got from the first person to help them (and yes, that second mail that the CSR sent out was amazingly rude), the reasonable, adult thing to do is to request to speak with a supervisor, and calmly explain the situation to that person.

How can you speak and calmly explain a situation to someone if the only communication interface is a support ticket and the CSR is consistently sending you messages that assert that your problem has been solved and therefore the matter is closed?
posted by blucevalo at 11:58 AM on November 4, 2010 [2 favorites]


As for the crack about "inhibiting reproductive viability," it's really much more of a stretch than might seem obvious at first glance. If you dig into the issue, looking at modern research, I think you'll find that it's really not as simple as the naive, childish view that "homosexuality is maladaptive". Even if it were true, guess what? It would still be grossly offensive because decent humans don't judge each other on reproductive suitability.

I didn't even think we were talking about homosexuality. I thought we were talking about sex-chromosomal disorders, which (from the limited wikipedia-ing I did, apologies if I am wrong) almost always result in infertility.

I absolutely agree. Decent humans don't judge each other on reproductive suitability. But that doesn't mean we should forget that we're animals, and the machine that created us is evolution, and the motor that runs evolution is natural selection. Iterative generational changes. Reproduction is not only the only reason we're alive, but it's the only way to truly understand ourselves.

In the context of civilized society, the law, and common decency, yes, every individual may as well be any other individual. That's the only fair system.

But as we intellectualize the big picture, on websites and such, it is counter-productive not to think in terms of the evolution that is even still shaping our destiny as a species.
posted by silentpundit at 12:05 PM on November 4, 2010


How many outspoken gender disassociatives actually have these chromosomal disorders?

Many, why do you ask?


In all serious, if you could link to some resources where I could learn more about this--preferably with figures--I would eagerly read and re-evaluate.
posted by silentpundit at 12:06 PM on November 4, 2010


XXX - Triple X Syndrome

Without clicking on the link, does this have something to do with Vin Diesel?

Also I think were all missing the most important point here, what the hell is Spirit Day?
posted by Bonzai at 12:07 PM on November 4, 2010


Also, throw a -ness in there.
posted by silentpundit at 12:07 PM on November 4, 2010


Decent humans don't judge each other on reproductive suitability. But that doesn't mean we should forget that we're animals, and the machine that created us is evolution, and the motor that runs evolution is natural selection. Iterative generational changes. Reproduction is not only the only reason we're alive, but it's the only way to truly understand ourselves.

In the context of civilized society, the law, and common decency, yes, every individual may as well be any other individual. That's the only fair system.

But as we intellectualize the big picture, on websites and such, it is counter-productive not to think in terms of the evolution that is even still shaping our destiny as a species.


What are you saying? We're not talking about scientifically classifying human beings. we're talking about allowing human beings to accurately inform their peers about how they align themselves in regard to a social construct.

Reproduction is not only the only reason we're alive, but it's the only way to truly understand ourselves.

It really really isn't. Especially not on a day to day interacting with other people basis.
posted by edbles at 12:15 PM on November 4, 2010 [6 favorites]


In all serious, if you could link to some resources where I could learn more about this--preferably with figures--I would eagerly read and re-evaluate.

Why only then would you reevaluate? Does someone have to belong to a minority in order to legitimately care about rights for that minority?
posted by shakespeherian at 12:16 PM on November 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


Also I think were all missing the most important point here, what the hell is Spirit Day?

It's the day when we all wore purple. Or threw a shit fit about having to wear it.
posted by blucevalo at 12:16 PM on November 4, 2010


Also I think were all missing the most important point here, what the hell is Spirit Day?

Are you familiar with the sites Google and/or Wikipedia?
posted by kmz at 12:17 PM on November 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


Must say, I'm enjoying this thread way too much, particularly as it really does seem to be a simple situation where some asshole (congregation of thereof) in marketing has decided that the advertisers NEED to know who's got a willy and who doesn't trumps all other concerns.

Isn't DeviantArt a free site, largely paid for by advertising revenue? If this is the case, then marketing is going to get whatever information they ask for because they're bringing in the $$$ to pay everyone. advertisers tend to rely on standardized demographic profiles, in much the same way that toolmakers tend to rely on people having two hands with five fingers each. Everyone knows there are exceptions to this, but in many cases it's not economically viable to tailor your product to the needs of exceptional customers. It may actually be cheaper for someone to develop an alternative from scratch than to try modifying an industry standard, and for the industry standard vendors to refer exceptional customers to the alternative product even though they lose a potential sale in the process.

From the customer standpoint, this is the price of free. Not only is everything you do on a free website abstracted statistically and resold to marketers/advertisers, you have no bargaining power or legal standing because you haven't paid them anything and so they don't owe you anything. Obviously that's pretty annoying for anyone who feels excluded by their 'binarist' marketing-department-in-a-box, but then they don't offer much to blind artists either, deviant or otherwise, any more than free music hosting websites cater well for deaf music lovers or musicians. Basically, if you're not paying for the service, then you are the product; the free art hosting exists solely to bring people past the paid-for billboard.

Of course, encouraging them to change this policy is preferable to meekly accepting it, although it might take a while to pay off. When I say 'encouraging,' I mean exactly that - give them the courage to overcome their (understandable) fears about the potential loss of revenue. You catch more flies with honey than you do with vinegar, in my experience. There doesn't seem to be any web service or ad agency focusing on this market, and for that matter there are only a few small LGBT ad agencies. Advertising is a purely economic issue, so the shortest route to success seems to be 'respect gender neutrality - make more money.' Throw in a few phrases such as 'underserved market opportunity' and 'hyper loyalty brand communities' and you're halfway there already.

Telling people who are giving away something for free and who are reasonably popular because of it that they're hateful or evil isn't likely to yield results. People give their friends' needs a much higher priority than those of their enemies, so the more furious criticism will likely end up with the same priority as allegations of satanic depravity. Also, ragging on the customer service reps is a complete waste of time: those jobs exist purely to insulate the decision-makers from annoying distractions, so problems originating with the reps are presumed to be distracting annoyances. Better to tell them to have a nice day, and then start a conversation with their PR, advertising, or business development people.

Another oblique strategy, albeit a more expensive and time-consuming one, would be to use dA's existing nonprofit advertising platform (adcast I think) to promote the idea of 'other' as a valid category. Maybe something like... '[Soviet propaganda stylee] CITIZEN: you shall make ART using only BLACK and WHITE. STRIPES may only be horizontal or vertical. CHECK is FORBIDDEN. DOTS must be ROUND... [fadeout] You don't accept constraints on your art. Don't accept constraints on your identity. Say no to gender stereotypes. [background Soviet stylee] Only MALE and FEMALE are acceptable...' Link out to a website explaining that binary choices are simplistic, annoy users, and weaken ad reach. 'Full Spectrum Diversity' (or some similar term, with a nice logo) brings more customers to your website (etc. etc.). Promote the idea. Sell it. That's what marketing departments understand best. If you sell it to them, they'll sell it to their advertisers.
posted by anigbrowl at 12:19 PM on November 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


Are you familiar with the sites Google and/or Wikipedia?

I am. I also enjoy making the occasional smart-ass comment.
posted by Bonzai at 12:20 PM on November 4, 2010


ISNA would be a good start:
about
FAQ

And I don't think your term "Gender dissosiatives" is useful in this discussion. Gender variance might be better. And if you google some of the people on their site, you'll find many are published in journals relating to gender, have spoken at related conventions, are published authors on the topic, etc.


But all that to say, one doesn't have to have a biological imperative to be gender variant, and it's irresponsible to center arguments purely around the biological discussion since gender itself is a societal construction.
But still, the biological variations are good to know about.
posted by Theta States at 12:23 PM on November 4, 2010


*goes to DA page and hides her gender, mostly because she can*

I dunno. I'm a transwoman and I always just choose "female" on sites that ask for my gender. I think I type in "dickgirl" when it's a freeform field and I feel like letting the world know what's under my skirt. Which apparently I did when I joined MeFi. And I don't really worry about it if I have to choose from just "male" or "female".

I wonder if that gives me "Conforming To Binary Interpretations Of Gender" privilege. I dunno, I'll ask my boyfriend's girlfriend who's going for a PhD in Gender Studies if there's a short, snappy mix of Greek and Latin roots that someone's coined for it.

✽   ✽   ✽   ✽   ✽

DA is, in my experience, a place prone to rules with bugs in it. For instance: I work primarily in Adobe Illustrator. This means that all of my work can be called "vector art". Which DA has a category for. But I've had gallery admins come in and change the category on some of my pieces because I'll use the occasional bitmap filter to add texture to my work - and in a move originally meant to separate "stuff done in a vector program" from "using Photoshop to make something that looks like a color-tweaked autotrace", anything touched by the tainted hand of pixels before the holy moment when it is born from the pure world of vectors via the pulsing birth canal of file➞save for web is deemed Not Vector Art. I don't dig deeply into DA so I can't give examples of other glitchy rules, but I have a suspicion that's far from the only exampke.

It's also... full of people who want to reduce things to binaries. I don't know how many threads I've seen in the forums from people who want to ask if something "is Art", or who want to know if physical media are "better" than digital media. So seeing that they've turned the "sex" field on your profile to a binary value, required for signup, is really not surprising.
posted by egypturnash at 12:35 PM on November 4, 2010 [2 favorites]


okay, so first there's

More importantly, we both know that the gender disassociation movement has nothing to do with chromosomal abnormalities. It has everything to do with societal conflict. How many outspoken gender disassociatives actually have these chromosomal disorders?

but then we have

Every human's rights and essential dignity are to be upheld by all, at all times

Hm.

Look, silentpundit. I am fully aware that I probably come off as a bit snappish in this exchange. But check this out, okay? I'm tired. I don't mean "I've had a long day at work so I get a free pass on being abrasive." I mean that I am tired of this same exact discussion, because every time it comes up, it goes the same goddamn fucking way, and I'm tired. I'm tired of cis people bloviating about how problems faced by LGBTQ folks really aren't that bad, or are being overblown, or aren't cause for concern, or whatever. I'm tired of hearing from people who pretend not to understand that it's offensive to call transwomen mentally ill men with inside-out cocks. I'm tired of the implication that everyone who doesn't fit neatly into the same box as the majority should just suck it up and quit making waves, as though asking for them to restore -- and again, restore, not implement -- the option for "Male / Female / Unspecified" is in any way comparable to wanting a dropdown entry for every conceivable way a person could identify themselves.

I'm tired of the fact that even this is seen as a huge imposition, when transpeople are nothing new and are only asking for a huge catch-all category to include their statistically significant numbers.

I'm tired of tortured analogies about peacocks and Down's syndrome babies, and I'm tired of the people who make those comparisons not noticing that there might be a huge problem with your argument if the only way you can state your case is by bringing up completely irrelevant bullshit.

I'm tired of yelling into the sound baffle of privilege.

I'm tired of the "fuck you, I've got mine" mentality that privilege brings with it, and the way it renders the same invisible. I'm tired of seeing discussions about rape prevention being jacked by people who insist that something is wrong with the fact that it does not address the fact that a comparatively tiny percentage of men also get raped or the fact that false accusations of rape exist. I'm tired of white people who seriously don't get why it's not okay for them to use the N-word the same way black people do. I'm tired of people who think it's bullshit that they'd get flack for having a straight pride parade, or a national association for the advancement of white people, or a men's liberation movement.

"Now, wait a minute," you may now be preparing to type. "I never said any of the stuff in the previous paragraph, and I'm not one of those people! What does that have to do with me?"

Here's what.

Like them, you are absolutely blinded by privilege to the impact and weight of your words. Your statements are inconsistent and arbitrary, and you get to make them because you've never had to think very hard about it. And I sincerely don't say this out of anger but because I am a little hoarse from saying it again and again: Please, try to think about it. Do some reading on this. Read up on the things faced by transfolk - or even people who are just non-cis - every day of their lives. Read up on what those in power see no problem in telling the powerless. Ask yourself why it's problematic for you to state that an entire group of people aren't a persecuted minority when you have no idea what they deal with and - this part is crucial - they do.

Because if you seriously believe that every human's rights and essential dignity are as important as all that, then maybe you could ask yourself why you feel that everyone claiming a non-binary gender identity needs to be held under a microscope - be it a hand down their pants or a look at their chromosomes - in order for you to dignify either their identity or their concerns with your official stamp of legitimacy. Bluntly, why the fuck do you care if the movement for gender acceptance is spearheaded by the biologically intersexed, or people who've never felt comfortable in their skin, or basically whoever? How does that change their arguments? What huge sacrifice are you being asked to make?

Ultimately, ask yourself how you reconcile treating everyone with dignity and respect regardless of who they are with the idea that some nebulous set of abstract credentials are required before you'll take someone's lifetime of experiences seriously.

And honestly, if the answer to that is "Okay, but logic aside, transpeople just freak me out," then you know what? Okay. It's nice to have it out in the open. It's not a statement I would question, because at least it is honest.

I'm not even asking you to change, really. Just asking you to think it over.
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 12:38 PM on November 4, 2010 [42 favorites]


Can we please get FAMOUS MONSTER'S post on a plaque or poster?

there are so many threads on mefi where that just needs to be directly linked to.
posted by Theta States at 12:50 PM on November 4, 2010 [6 favorites]


Why only then would you reevaluate? Does someone have to belong to a minority in order to legitimately care about rights for that minority?

Believe it or not, though we disagree, I legitimately care about rights for all people, and I didn't say only then. I've been re-evaluating throughout this conversation. That's why conversation between differing viewpoints is so vital.

Is there no room in this thread for honest exchange of ideas, without there needing to be battle lines drawn?
posted by silentpundit at 12:55 PM on November 4, 2010


I guess I don't understand why you phrased it the way you did, then.
posted by shakespeherian at 12:56 PM on November 4, 2010


silentpundit has a point however
posted by The Lady is a designer at 1:02 PM on November 4, 2010


I wasn't drawing any battle lines. This is now my fourth comment in this thread, and only two have had anything to do with silentpundit. They are to be found above.
posted by shakespeherian at 1:08 PM on November 4, 2010


But when a man looks in the mirror and sees a woman, and then pays someone to chop his Linus off and carve a vagina into his pelvis like a meaty cored apple, that's free expression?

Is there no room in this thread for honest exchange of ideas, without there needing to be battle lines drawn?
posted by darksasami at 1:09 PM on November 4, 2010 [4 favorites]


This goes through the whole ad ecosystem, though. Let's say an ad agency creates a new demo: 18-35 "Other" gendered people. OK, fine. Now someone has to buy ads in that. And that means they have salespeople pushing that demo block to companies. And the marketing people in those companies have to decide it's worth targeting. But they've only got $5M for their ad buy, and they know the 18-35 Male and 13-18 Female demos will give them the best shot, so they keep it simple and concentrate on those.

So for larger ad companies and larger advertisers, I think it would just get lost in the noise. But web advertising is moving more towards micro-targeting and IBA (interest based advertising), which is where this info would come in. So there are or will be ways to do this, the system does change and the idea of the large monolithic categories, while still HEAVILY used, it slowly changing.

But from DA's perspective there's another wrinkle: when they sell their demo, they will make MORE money by having M and F than they will having M, F, and O. Because the "M" and "F" categories will get MUCH higher bids, and thus DA gets more ad revenue. Even if they have this "O" category(ies), the price per impression/click is going to be very low because it will be a new(ish) thing thta advertisers dont generally target.

So --- can it be done? Yes. It may already be, through IBA/other info if not through gender itself (stereotypically: targeting gay men through M who also love Showtunes, etc). But an "O" demo is less valuable than an "M" or "F" demo, so DA gets less money.
posted by wildcrdj at 1:16 PM on November 4, 2010


I guess I don't understand why you phrased it the way you did, then.

In the particular post you're referencing, I am disputing the correlation between sex-chromosomal abnormalities and trans-gendered psychology.

Sex-chromosomal abnormalities (XXX, XXY, and all the others), don't represent extra genders. Let's be clear. They simply manifest very specific morphological and developmental idiosyncracies. XXY males are roundish and have smaller-than-normal genitals. XXX females are unusually tall and have a high occurence of dyslexia. X females have short statures and characteristic facial features, and a 'caved-in' chest. XYY males often do not even know they have the extra Y chromosome, as the only traits exhibited are very slightly abnormal (taller height, higher occurence of learning disabilities.

I have met, on the other hand, many individuals who don't identify as their biological gender, and none of them suffer from congenital defects because of their 21st chromosome.

They are perfectly normal XX females or XY males, that feel very strongly that they would rather be the other gender.

I'm trying to understand why, because in spite of the pig-nosed demon this thread seems to think I am, I am actually a reasonably intelligent, empathetic person, but I also know that there's only two genders in humans, and likewise for most of our evolutionary ancestry, and if we're suddenly sprouting more, that feels like something I would like to very clearly understand the hows and whys of.

I also know enough about psychology to know that it is extremely wishy washy. 'Common knowledge' in psychology is basically upended every few years with each new fashionable theory that comes through. In the 80s, they stopped treating anxiety with cognitive therapy, because that's how convinced they were that anxiety was a purely biological function and Valium was the cure for it.

So the assertion that 'all gender is a societal construct' strikes me as highly dubious on its face, seeing as how other species pretty clearly operate in gender-based social dynamics, without having a transmittable society. And to point to the field of psychology as proof is not extremely helpful for such a ground-breaking idea as 'the idea of male/female is wrong,' especially since the only proof to be found there is that the field of psychology has a term for the phenomenon. They also have a term for the fear of clowns, but I'm not about to blame the clowns.

So I'm looking for facts. If there are none, only emotions, then I will move along.

I apologize again if my tone is offensive, combative, or dismissive. But emotions are not valid debate tools, neither is appeal to motive (as in, I just think anything besides heterosexual sex is 'icky.' Which, if you knew the slightest thing about me, you'd know is a pretty funny thing to suggest.)
posted by silentpundit at 1:32 PM on November 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


when they sell their demo, they will make MORE money by having M and F than they will having M, F, and O.

Wasn't it claimed by silentpundit that those who would not select M or F would be statistically neglible? Then wouldn't that imply that there would be no noticeable monetary impact to leave it as M/F/O for the options?
posted by Theta States at 1:34 PM on November 4, 2010


but I also know that there's only two genders in humans

How do you know that?
Are you sure you are not just assuming there are two because you have had limited cultural exposure to any variation thereof?

And why would a social construct be a perfect binary?
For that matter, why would a biological construct be a perfect binary?


seeing as how other species pretty clearly operate in gender-based social dynamics

Again, I think you're thinking of sex, which is different.
posted by Theta States at 1:39 PM on November 4, 2010


I also know that there's only two genders in humans, and likewise for most of our evolutionary ancestry, and if we're suddenly sprouting more, that feels like something I would like to very clearly understand the hows and whys of.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Third_gender#Third_gender_in_history
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 1:39 PM on November 4, 2010 [4 favorites]


Those examples are all from either mythology, or they're not really third genders.

Like this:

Among the 19th century Chuckhi, the “soft men” (yirka-lául) were a category of biologically male shamans who adopted first female hairstyle, then female dress, and finally married males. They were hated and scorned but also feared by the rest of the Chuckhi, as they were considered to be much more powerful than other shamans (Price 2002, 302).[77]

That's listed as an example of a 'third gender in history.' They're males who dressed as females and married men. So, they're men. Not a 'third gender.'
posted by silentpundit at 1:45 PM on November 4, 2010


That's listed as an example of a 'third gender in history.' They're males who dressed as females and married men. So, they're men. Not a 'third gender.'

Again, you're mixing up gender and sex. Are you doing that on purpose?
posted by Theta States at 1:46 PM on November 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


Let us contemplate a website where, in order to sign up, you have to check one of two boxes:

[] Windows
[] Mac

No, we can't add a third box! It's too much work! Stop complaining and just tick a box to make marketing happy!
posted by ErikaB at 1:48 PM on November 4, 2010 [6 favorites]


Wasn't it claimed by silentpundit that those who would not select M or F would be statistically neglible?

Well, maybe. But was that actually true? Anyone have numbers?

Many of the people I know who are big DA fans would choose Other just because (making a political point, being funny, genuine dislike of the M/F system, etc). But thats just anecdata.
posted by wildcrdj at 2:04 PM on November 4, 2010


Well, they're synonymous, after all.

I think that's the heart of our disagreement.

You're saying gender can be chosen.

I'm saying it can't. You are what you are. Like Popeye.

If you are a man, but you also happen to identify with women more than other men, that doesn't mean you're actually a woman. You're a man who has more positive female role models than male ones. Everything else is up to you, but you can't just alter the very language of reality.

Gender has only one meaning: whether you contribute the sperm, or the egg, to making new people.

So even though that can't be chosen, literally anything else about yourself can. Interests, occupations, sexual partners, anything. You can call those things aspects of 'societal gender' if you want, but it feels like that's just a poor name for it, because it creates confusion, as we've seen.

So we've broken it down to the fundamental nature of the argument. You are saying gender is societal. I am saying it is not. I am saying people historically have been pigeonholed or oppressed in various ways because of their gender, but it's quite a leap to then say that the gender that formed the basis of the oppression in the first place was invented by the oppressor so that they had a reason to oppress.
posted by silentpundit at 2:05 PM on November 4, 2010


I have met, on the other hand, many individuals who don't identify as their biological gender, and none of them suffer from congenital defects because of their 21st chromosome.

They are perfectly normal XX females or XY males, that feel very strongly that they would rather be the other gender.


You know what, okay.

I could have picked out any single quote. I selected that one, for no special reason.

You've got your guns and hell or high water you're sticking to them, and if that involves moving goalposts until the people you're demanding proof of can't even see the football field anymore, well, so be it, right?

What's important here, I'm gathering, are two things:

1. That biological determinism is valid and unassailable, and that
2. The discussion must be swung back towards biological determinism if it heads somewhere unfamiliar to you.

Of course, it requires believing that anyone who's trans is mentally ill and should get therapy instead of surgery.

Did I mention I'm tired?

Did I maybe give some indication that I'm tired of people who've never had to live through this shit calmly explaining that actually a little therapy would be a much better solution, not surgery, blissfully oblivious to the quite frankly vomitous implied insult that the trans people in question might not have the mental acumen to arrive at the same conclusion and maybe pursue that and find it wasn't really working?

I'm getting older, my memory is going, maybe it didn't really occur to me to mention that I'm tired of dealing with people who've given this maybe a half-hour of thought and are unshakable in their belief that they have a deeper understanding of this than folks who've been living it their entire lives.

I'm tired of each and every individual who looks at a group of people radically different from themselves and either doesn't consider or doesn't believe that people in that group might know something you don't about what it's like to be in that group.

I'm tired of being asked "Whoa, why so hostile? I'm just trying to have a rational discussion!" by people who opened their argument - and then continued it - by denying the basic humanity and agency of a whole group of individuals, some of whom they were addressing.

And note that I say "people." I do not say "You." Why? Because I've had this same discussion more times than it pleases me to remember, and it always, always, always ends the same way.

But I get it. I do. You've been given pretty much the most complete 101 about this a person could be, from countless angles, and you still believe that maybe if you just tell the actual goddamn transpeople trying to talk to you How It Really Is a couple more times, they'll realize how silly they've been. They'll understand that they're just normal men and women with some uncomfortable delusions. And maybe they'll stop getting so goddamn prickly about having their life of experience and all their studies on the subject being declared invalid by some dude who's kind of skimmed a couple Wikipedia articles.

(as in, I just think anything besides heterosexual sex is 'icky.' Which, if you knew the slightest thing about me, you'd know is a pretty funny thing to suggest.)

Yeah, hey, guess what: No one said that. I did not say that. I said something very different, and you have done not exactly a damn thing to suggest I was wrong.

I said I was tired, and I meant it, and being honked at by the Platonic ideal of privileged ignorance has not exactly filled me with vim.

I said this argument always ends the same way, but I have decided I will let it change up a bit. See, how this usually goes is eventually you cry censorship, or you lay out some passive-aggressive bit about how "I guess it's only okay to have an opinion here if it's the right one!" or whatever kind of thing.

Well, fuck that. Here's how it ends this time: I stop trying to do the impossible, and you get to have the last word.

Enjoy -
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 2:08 PM on November 4, 2010 [18 favorites]


I have to leave for the day, can someone else finish this off? tired fingers...
posted by Theta States at 2:09 PM on November 4, 2010


There's a lot to be said for taken people's self-reported experiences at face value, when confronted with a thing you don't understand. Maybe the science will take us someplace entirely different in the future. Maybe there's a lot we don't understand about being transgender. In the absence of that understanding, we can still believe what people tell us about their own experiences.
posted by Jeanne at 2:10 PM on November 4, 2010 [4 favorites]


FAMOUS MONSTER, I'm sorry to have upset you.
posted by silentpundit at 2:13 PM on November 4, 2010


silentpundit : I didn't even think we were talking about homosexuality. I thought we were talking about sex-chromosomal disorders, which (from the limited wikipedia-ing I did, apologies if I am wrong) almost always result in infertility.

Oops, you're right.. I misread. I don't have much to add right now - busy evening - but thanks for staying civil and open-minded.
posted by Drexen at 2:18 PM on November 4, 2010


Again, you're mixing up gender and sex. Are you doing that on purpose?

Well, they're synonymous, after all.


Okay, this here is not up for questions. Grab a dictionary. Gender is not the same thing as sex-- this is why, in the romance languages, nouns have gender, but they don't ever get together and make babies. Gender is performative. This is why we speak of 'gender roles' and not 'sex roles.' These are not synonyms. This has nothing to do with opinion.
posted by shakespeherian at 2:34 PM on November 4, 2010 [12 favorites]


As a transwoman (started hormones when I was in my teens without parental or friend acceptance, full time at 20 years old, and now it's almost 20 years later) who in the past has done lots of outreach, whether it be speaking in front of groups, pride marches, support groups, or what have you... I have to say this person (and to an extent, this discussion) is drama royalty of the worst kind.

What gets me most about it is the arrogant and insulting nature in which they relate their experience, interact with the CSRs (who admittedly have acted poorly through the situation), and continue to keep this tempest in a teapot going. Yes, it is a tempest in a teapot. In the final analysis, the entire discussion revolves around the lack of a third option for gender . Yeah, it sucks. Move on.

That is not to say that I don't have sympathy with people who are gender dysphoric in whatever way (cd, ts, tg, intersexed, whatever). Obviously, I do considering my own past dealing with discrimination and obstacles. But when you equate not having a third gender option on your web form and clumsily worded CSR responses with not "actually giv[ing] a damn about the queer community or those kids who had killed themselves," you've kind of hurt your case, and frankly doing a disservice to your own community.

You know, when I was transitioning, I had to go with an M on my driver's license until I got my surgery due to state law. I hated it, hid it from people, but over time I realized NO ONE EVER NOTICED. In the end it was just a symbolic letter that bouncers's eyes rolled over when looking for my birth date, and was never dealt with. And that's STILL more important than a freaking dropdown box on a free web site.

Yes, it's a hassle to have two accounts if you have two gender identities, but that is all it is until you decide to push through and move on to the next level of your transition. Or you hide your gender designation... and it is a misfortune that that seems to be broken on DeviantArt, and is an easier fix without causing a problem with marketers. I hope they add it... but it isn't a travesty of justice.

This is a person who HAS to be right, who everyone must SEE is right, and must rally EVERYONE to their cause. And if you disagree on any point, including the manner in which they decide to prosecute their cause, you are obviously some sort of bigot, apologist, or other undesirable WHO JUST DOESN'T UNDERSTAND THE PAIN THEY ARE GOING THROUGH RIGHT NOW.

Seriously, how can you take anyone rationally when they say things like this, re: the removal of the drop down option:

"Is that supposed to be progress? It look more like regression to me. This is 2010, not 1900."

1900. What? Was 1800 TOO dramatic?

When I think about what I've gone through and this is what this person is complaining about.... YE GODS.
posted by BecauseIHadFiveDollars at 2:56 PM on November 4, 2010 [5 favorites]


silentpundit: You're saying gender can be chosen. I'm saying it can't. You are what you are. [...] Gender has only one meaning: whether you contribute the sperm, or the egg, to making new people. [...] So we've broken it down to the fundamental nature of the argument. You are saying gender is societal. I am saying it is not.

Maybe this will help. Me, and probably most of the other people arguing against you here, are using terminology differently than you are. We are using the following definitions:

Someone's sex is their physical nature - anatomy and hormonal makeup. Most people have a sex that can easily categorised as either male or female. Not everyone does, however.

Someone's gender is the societally-defined gender role that they feel they best fit into, and that they perform. It's to do with the way you present yourself, carry yourself, speak, react to situations, the broad sway of your tastes, clothing choices, makeup, the socioeconomic roles that you fill... etc. It is to do with how you perceive yourself and how society perceives you.

They are not synonyms, and nor does one inevitably dictate the other. Both are complex, non-binary. Throughout history, gender has changed. The signifiers that make you a 'man' or a 'woman' - the signifiers that have been perceived to be inseparable from sex - have shifted and changed throughout history and across cultures. An individual of the female sex can adopt the gender of a man, by dressing, acting, speak, etc in various ways. The fact that they are "really" of the female sex beneath their trousers does not change the fact that, inasfar as they appear to be of the male gender, they are of that gender. It is not a delusion or a trick, it is a semantic distinction. Gender is what is performed, perceived and felt; sex is the label that relates to physical anatomy.

Of course they are linked, and of course in general someone's sex will correspond to their gender. But it is a fact that that is not always the case. Unless you are prepared to say that countless people of non-traditional gender are outright, utterly, fundamentally mistaken about a basic aspect of themselves, and are deluded, and also that the scientists and theorists who have output vast swathes of study and thought on this subject are all entirely off track about a very basic and central part of their field, then you should consider accepting that distinction. And if you are inclined to believe that it could be all bunk, then I would suggest that spending enough time with people of that persuasion will eventually convince you otherwise.

There is a huge amount of well-researched and well-written work that backs up what I'm saying -- notwithstanding how complex and controversial the subject is, and the conflicting arguments among experts -- but I really do have to get going, now, so I don't have time to dig up a good list of links. Hopefully somebody else will oblige, since this is fundamental to the argument.
posted by Drexen at 2:59 PM on November 4, 2010 [2 favorites]


So the assertion that 'all gender is a societal construct' strikes me as highly dubious on its face, seeing as how other species pretty clearly operate in gender-based social dynamics, without having a transmittable society.

Are you suggesting there is a physical genetic cause for our cultural idea of what it means to be "a real man"? That female humans have a biological predisposition to enjoying pink? That all the millions of ways Men are different from Women in society boil down to chromosomes? If I told you to stop "being a girl" would you have some idea what I might be accusing you of? Would you reply that given the appropriate apparatus, and some patience on my part, you could demonstrate you chromosomal *gender identity* to reassure me that you are in fact not a girl?

Like race, what the physical signs mean socially is not determined by the physical facts themselves.

That's why there are words already to distinguish between the physical part and the social part. The dA page asks specifically about the social part.
posted by ServSci at 3:03 PM on November 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


> There's a lot to be said for taken people's self-reported experiences at face value, when
> confronted with a thing you don't understand.

I'm really glad to see this on metafilter. Useful to link to next time we're talking about people whose self-reported experience involves the personal presence of Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior.
posted by jfuller at 3:15 PM on November 4, 2010 [2 favorites]


We almost forgot the struggles of a mainstream religious identity
posted by ServSci at 3:23 PM on November 4, 2010


Well, they're synonymous, after all.

The phrase "Gender is between the ears; sex is between the legs" might help you remember the difference. It's a bit of an oversimplification, but it's useful enough.
posted by NoraReed at 3:29 PM on November 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


A quick clarification: I said that if a biological woman is perceived to be of the male gender, then they are. That only covers someone's external gender. There is also an internal component to gender: how you perceive yourself. If you are a man, I presume it is safe to say that you would feel uncomfortable wearing 'female' clothing, adopting 'female' mannerisms, and generally fulfilling the female gender role. That would still be the case even if your body magically became female tomorrow. It would be surely be a very non-trivial issue for you to become comfortable with these things - to adopt the female gender. Until you did, you would perceive yourself to be of the male gender, but the female sex.

Some people are born with the female sex, but perceive themselves to be of the male gender (and vice versa). This is a disorder inasfar as it causes them problems fitting into society and feeling comfortable with themselves. Some people are able to deal with this by learning to feel comfortable expressing a gender other than the one they feel themselves to be. But this is not something that can be demanded or expected. Not everyone is able to do it. Not everyone wants to do it. And forcing them to do so is Wrong. It is harmful, it is cruel, it is at odds with a true understanding of what it feels like to be that way, and of how false it is that a disparity like that is, in itself, harmful, disgusting, insane, immoral, diabolical, and so forth. This is not pleading to be treated differently, to be treated as (ugh) a "special snowflake". It is asking to be given the same right to express the gender they feel themselves to be, as cisgendered people are fortunate enough to enjoy by default, and which society is configured to assume, to expect, and indeed to demand.
posted by Drexen at 3:37 PM on November 4, 2010


Some people are born with the female sex, but perceive themselves to be of the male gender (and vice versa).

(And that's not to mention people who perceive themselves to be of a gender that doesn't fit neatly into the categories of male or female. Or do not perceive themselves to have any particular, constant or single gender.)
posted by Drexen at 3:40 PM on November 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


The situation is entirely frustrating and tragic, but the blog post is a little emergency xanax. I have deep respect for gender issues (and evidently deviantArt's marketing department has none), but should one really attempt to die on this hill?
posted by tehloki at 3:52 PM on November 4, 2010


What about official paperwork, like a driver's licence, passport, etc? I'm pretty sure you only have two options on "official" documentation like that, so I wonder if this person is willing to raise the same questions with the DMV, Department of State, etc.? Or would the person just pick one and move on, knowing that the likely battles with such large entities is probably not worth the time and effort?
posted by KillaSeal at 3:58 PM on November 4, 2010


RE: No historic instances of cultures with systems more complex than two fixed genders.
See: Hua and their Nu, and Twospirit.
* Meigs, Anna. Food as a Cultural Construction. Food and Culture: A Reader. Ed. Carole Counihan and Penny van Esterik. New York: Routledge, 1997. 95-106.
* Meigs, Anna. Food, Sex, and Pollution: A New Guinea Religion (Rutgers University Press; Reprint edition, April 1988) ISBN 0-8135-1306-5


Twospirit:
A direct translation of the Ojibwe term, Niizh manidoowag, "two-spirited" or "two-spirit" is usually used to indicate a person whose body simultaneously houses a masculine spirit and a feminine spirit. The term can also be used more abstractly, to indicate presence of two contrasting human spirits (such as Warrior and Clan Mother) or two contrasting animal spirits (which, depending on the culture, might be Eagle and Coyote); however, these uses, while descriptive of some aboriginal cultural practices and beliefs, depart somewhat from the 1990 purposes of promoting the term.

The roles one 'plays' in the theatre of life is pretty much up to the individual, seriously, what the monster said up above, that 'urge' in EVERY thread to question the very REALITY of these people, to suggest that some "commenter" ought to have "final say" on weather or not someone is "mentally wrong", or "ill"... y'know, if one tried not to "define", and "scientifically study" the private parts of others, but rather, to understand they-- an individual-- perhaps then there may be more openness to "have a frank chat"; as it is, there has been a ton of the same thing as exists in threads about Autism (ie. PROVE that YOUR case is real [but even if you give a heart wrenching personal story, I will still get to have final say on slandering everyone ELSE {who are all fakers}] or some such similar position)
posted by infinite intimation at 4:32 PM on November 4, 2010


> and they certainly don't have to deal with smug blowhards insisting that a man who
> gets implants and cuts his dick off is not a woman but a mutilated man - but even
> if they did have to hear that shit constantly from a steady stream of people who are
> convinced they're the first to point it out, i'm sure it would only get increasingly
> fun to hear.
> posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 2:43 PM on November 4 [4 favorites +] [!]

As a point of interest, one of the best-known offenders on this point is Jim Fouratt, founder of the Gay Liberation Front. There was quite a struggle between the GLB community and trans-persons, and pushback from GLBs, before the acronym ever got from GLB to GLBT. The fraught history is detailed here on edgeboston. That article refers without a link to another post, by Monica Roberts on transgriot, which can be read here.
posted by jfuller at 4:38 PM on November 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


This very much IS a hill to (is there a difference between dying, being shut out/shouted down?) question.

DeviantArt seems to be very much ABOUT creating an identity (for artists), and the idea that Gender ISN'T at some part a 'core' element of identity for an artists expression is to be sort of naive, I can see wanting simplicity for coders, sure, but what seems to have been lost in the rush to say "but why do we have to learn so many new WORDS!!!"-- if you don't care about the people who spend time DECIDING what words to use... then just don't worry about them, but if one does care to understand WHY someone uses the words they use... more power.

What seem to be getting lost in the noise is that all that is being pointed out is that "there was an active change in policy, that now ALTERS the online identity of a content creator.

A change... so all the Concern people have for "overworked coders"... the CHANGE was already made, this isn't some minority demanding NEW rights.

If you want to allow people to 'construct' their identity on your site... then you cannot arbitrarily alter the 'rules', if you are going to say, no, "you are either a man or a woman or stfu", then it is very legitimate that those who are outside of that binary, and also thsoe that stand beside those outside the binary, should talk, and should consider leaving.

I think it's a good point to here make that the young person who did "Jared Leto makeup timelapse" thing recently faced harsh "anti-trans bigotry" on this very site! (regardless of her ACTUAL constructed/personal identity!)
posted by infinite intimation at 4:42 PM on November 4, 2010 [3 favorites]


Here's the thing: to say that there are only two genders, to pathologize those who fall outside of that binary, is to remove the agency of those who have, through a process that isn't exactly fun, decided to reject that binary, or decided they don't fit into it. Here's the thing: it costs you very little to acknowledge these people's chosen identity, because doing so is a matter of basic respect, of basic civility, of basic acknowledgment of another person's humanity. Even if they have picked a stupid label, or are dancing around trying to get attention, by not granting them the simple amount of civility that you would give to any cisgendered person, you're punishing them FAR more than you would punish anyone else who is dancing around saying they're a special snowflake.

I go through my daily life seeing the sort of arguments that silentpundit is making from what seems like everyone around me, and metafilter is a place where generally it's pretty safe to be, as the linked writer would say, deviant, and it's really hurtful to come on here and see people doing that. I thought better of mefites. I'm sure DA members who identify outside of the gender binary, or who recognize the basic humanity and/or agency of those who do, feel the same way when this kind of thing happens.

It makes me feel really hopeless to see such bigotry on sites that are generally progressive.
posted by NoraReed at 4:57 PM on November 4, 2010 [5 favorites]


I woke up this morning to some angered members regarding our sign-up process and it's misunderstanding of the term "Gender."

I looked in to it, and we clearly made a mistake when we changed our sign up process a few months back...

Upon further discussions with the participants in this Journal, we've decided there's no reason not to add "Other" to the Male/Gender drop down during sign-up now dubbed "Sex.

posted by tallus at 5:19 PM on November 4, 2010 [9 favorites]



I'm tired of the "fuck you, I've got mine" mentality that privilege brings with it, and the way it renders the same invisible.

Well-stated.

Some uppity users say their names include characters not found in the Latin alphabet. Those 26 letters and two cases were plenty good enough for my Grandpa and his seven-bit encoding scheme. Imagine, having the gall to think you know best what you want to be called.

I am against requiring people to surrender fundamental aspects of identity for the convenience of the marketing department, even when it makes work for overworked coders.

Two other points:

- The map is not the territory. Accommodating reality is part of collecting data properly. Whatever reason the site has to collect users' personal information, it's not well-served by inaccurate data collection instruments.

- IANA online marketing strategist, but it seems wrong-headed to require the unpaid (or even paying) content providers to furnish their identifying info to target advertising to the content consumers.
posted by gingerest at 6:36 PM on November 4, 2010


it seems wrong-headed to require the unpaid (or even paying) content providers

The site probably doesn't think of the members as content providers or even customers; they're ad eyeballs. The customer in this case would the ad service selling advertising impressions on the site to various companies, which is why the ad service would be able to dictate the demographic data requirements. When in doubt about why, follow the money. Advertising is probably going to bring in more money than paying members of the site generate.

(Disclaimer: I'm not agreeing with their POV--quite the opposite for many reasons offered in this thread--just offering a best-guess at what the people who decided to require gender/sex as part of registration were thinking.)
posted by immlass at 7:05 PM on November 4, 2010


Thanks for the heads up, tallus. Looks like dA listened. I guess we should send flowers to their sysadmin ppl.
posted by ServSci at 7:21 PM on November 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


"Neutrois" seems like a strange way to identify. I'm no French expert, but isn't the suffix 'ois' male gendered, with the female form being '-oise'?

Don't read too much into the roots of the word. It's pretty commonly used to indicate a null gender identification (or no gender identification, or ungendered - in this case I'm not sure what the most acceptable definition is?).
posted by tybeet at 7:28 PM on November 4, 2010


Keep the binary "male"/"female" options, but change the question. I suggest something like: "Which gender of advertising would you rather see? 'male' or 'female'"

You're welcome.
posted by wobh at 11:03 PM on November 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


Personally, I think I'd like a slider where you can pick the value closest to yourself on a scale from Manly to Womanly. Good for advertisers, and good for saying what you are in terms of traditional sexual definitions while allowing some much-needed wiggle room.

And if you feel like you tend to fluctuate a bit, just type in the formula of your gender identity (if you steadly swing back and forth, for example, y = cos(x)).

Or we could just listen to Dr. Steve Brule.


But seriously, open form all the way!
posted by mccarty.tim at 12:40 AM on November 5, 2010 [1 favorite]


WOW! Tallus, thank you for updating us with DeviantArt's retraction and thoughtful apology. I wish that kind of thing happened more often.

Yay, a happy thing to kick off Friday!
posted by ErikaB at 8:39 AM on November 5, 2010 [1 favorite]


'for status our only options are "single, taken, open or blank"'

Personally, I wish MeFi would let you set your status to "ookin pah nub."
posted by Eideteker at 8:50 AM on November 5, 2010 [2 favorites]


Wow! This has been a great thread. Recently, when contemplating the weird, forced-binary attitudes of folks like unixrat and silentpundit on gender and sexuality issues, I imagine them as the kid in this picture.
posted by Baby_Balrog at 11:47 AM on November 5, 2010 [1 favorite]


I don't get why people talk about hills to die on and dying on hill and whether they'd choose this particular hill...

1-the internet isn't running out of ink
2-it actually worked
3-just because you, personally, wouldn't say anything about something doesn't mean that it's inappropriate or ill-advised to do so
posted by the young rope-rider at 7:05 AM on November 6, 2010


I don't get why people talk about hills to die on and dying on hill and whether they'd choose this particular hill..

hills?
posted by Bonzai at 5:25 PM on November 6, 2010


Come on, if this was about a White man, who cared deeply about the 'term used to describe' something in the material world; when someone forced their phrase on them, to make a hill into a mountain, we would be watching a romantic comedy that would be beloved by immortals... starring Carry Hugh Grant or something.
The Reverend Jones speculated in his mind on the philosophy and practice of map-making. "The most innocent maps were concerned with helping one from place to place. The English already had those - They’d found a way here hadn’t they? No, they didn’t need new maps for that. The more the Reverend pondered the subject the more he concluded that maps, by and large, were made for less than altruistic purposes: maps were made to define the borders of property, more for reasons of exclusion than inclusion. Maps were to measure properties for taxation. Maps were made to define borders and thus became more and more important in times of war. Moreover, he had heard that these men, these Englishmen, were from His Majesty’s Ordnance Survey. Apart from ‘His Majesty’ there was another term in that title the Reverend didn’t like: ordnance. Wasn’t that a synonym for bombs and ammunition? The more the reverend thought about it the more suspicious he became."

In the end the villagers prevailed; they delayed the departure of the surveyors and raised the mountain. It was a good book and a good movie.

Monger, in the epilogue to the book, says that about five years after the event there was a new edition of the map, which showed "Ffynnon Garw Mountain - 1002 feet." Soon all the villagers had a copy in their homes. It is a good thing they did not see the 1921 edition (which is in the library). It says "Garth Hill - elevation 1000 feet." Although that is the 1921 edition, the small print says the leveling was revised in 1899 and partly revised in 1915.
gender/sex/maps/territories/orthogonal-thinking/self-defining/not accepting other peoples terminology-six degrees of intimation Hugh grant white englishman getting venerated through the centuries for what is criticized when others do it.
posted by infinite intimation at 8:41 PM on November 9, 2010


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