Collection of confused gender-demanding forms

Originally published at: Collection of confused gender-demanding forms | Boing Boing


Recent (non-serious) conversation overheard at the IT table: “So… gender ought to be encoded as a floating point number?” “Well, that implies that gender is one dimensional, doesn’t it? best make it a complex number.” “Just to be on the safe side, i’m going with a quaternion


I worked on a data entry form for insurance underwriters that specialized in equine mortality policies at a past job. The number of genders for a horse surprised me although I think they just overloaded the field. Like I’m not sure a gelding vs a colt vs stallion vs ridgling qualify as “genders”? but these forms were for underwriters not veterinarians. Although honestly with my understanding of gender being a social construct I’m not even certain the term applies to horses or animals.


Wouldn’t varchar or a String make the most sense?


I’ve found (in too many organizations and IT departments to count) that is not a criteria for designing forms like these. For example, I still find my name truncated all over the place. Not like that’s important, right? So, my confidence level that they’ll resolve how to ask, capture, store, and distribute information about gender in a standard way anytime soon is low. :woman_shrugging:t4: :nerd_face:


Wouldn’t varchar or a String make the most sense?

that is how you get italy. do you want italy!? :wink:



Canadian is a gender?!?



In fact veterinarians do use all those terms for “gender” as well. It’s important for diagnosis because it tells you things about their hormones, how old they are, how they’ve been ridden or not, etc. Horse jargon is a whole crazy world unlike our own.

Source: I used to work reception at my dad’s vet clinic as one of my first jobs. :smile:


“Fe-Man” is one of my favorite nonbinary 80s cartoon action heroes.

Or maybe that’s just the restroom Iron Man uses? (Atomic symbols and all that)



Gelding should have better longevity than a stallion, but the intact boy will be more valuable if he’s won a few trophies for as long as they can breed him.

Eh, in this context “gender” is a bunch of reasonable buckets to group similar-enough groups in. At least from the point of view of “likelihood to die in N years” and “payout if die in N years”

Orchard Falla is a Capistan-speaking young male man. He suffers from perpetually aching teeth, gross anaemia and a marrow deficiency.

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The clarity of a graph drops when you have to collate variants or otherwise analyse the responses before they are categorized. I guess it boils down to different types of statistics but what it really means is all this stuff is for advertisers, stakeholders, etc., where it has to be presented in a certain way to avoid having to talk about it more.

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Oh you’re saying people want to represent gender as some sort of score/metric that they can graph or use in a formulae or statistical analysis? hrm. I dunno I guess gender expressed as a scale from -1 to 1, with pure androgyny as 0 might work for some folks but I don’t think it would ever be that simple.


Oddly enough they didn’t actually use any of the information to do any sort of calculation. The data was never fed into the “rating engine”. The people who buy life insurance policies on their horses tend to be rather wealthy and the underwriter’s in this business line were less concerned about the horse but more about how much of that wealth could be extracted from the customer, so they were given a relatively free hand in determining the rates.

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Nah, we want to make sure to respect and preserve freedom of movement and assembly, and let people love who they love, so we should stick to representations that are commutative and associative. I’d take the complex numbers over the reals because they’re not ordered and we don’t want to make an easy way to say one gender is better than another. Though I’m not really sure what would be the value in being able to define an algebra over gender?

Although, maybe there is a way to make the octonions work to self-consistently capture people’s gender and sexuality together, if you define your four axes to span male-female, cis-trans, homosexual-heterosexual, and asexual-allosexual. I wonder if anyone has actually tried that. Though you might need a vector of multiple octonions to represent bigender and various fluid identities, similar to linear algebra representations of quantum superpositions (we should include phase, too, to handle changes over time) (unclear if this system should include normalizing the total vector length).

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Fiendly reminder that software engineers / coders don’t often specify the contents or options of forms. “Techbro” entrepreneurs who think a technically-functioning app is the only consideration in running a company probably do, but otherwise this silliness originates elsewhere. If a coder is left to populate drop-down options, something has gone terribly wrong.


happy day dance GIF by VAMP


The short answer: Legacy applications and supporting said legacy applications.

The long answer:
Most IT departments are using someone else’s software, and depending on how old it is, there is a character limit to the field for names. (even when separated out into first and last name)
Example: the ‘samaccountname’ (aka username) field in Active Directory is 20 characters; first name, last name are 64 characters. It all draws back to when the computer running the entire company cost several million dollars and took up several an entire room by itself, and had maybe enough processing horsepower, memory, and storage of a modern ‘landfill’ android phone.

… like the test or dev version of the site/application/database getting drop-kicked into production without giving the dev team any notice in order to clean up the selectors or contact the users who are handling that data to make sure it’s what they are looking for.

From looking at the site linked in the article, I think I recognize one of those selection boxes from the “Epic” healthcare system. :frowning: I’m also surprised the “NaaN” wasn’t listed on any of them.


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