A quote from a client got me thinking:
“[In a web form on our site] we have noticed that the Gender box gives people the option of ‘Other’. Would it be possible to remove this, and leave people with the option of selecting only Male or Female? I assume that most people are either one or the other!”
Yes, that’s a fair assumption, but it’s incorrect. If you want everyone to be able to use your website, you need to be smarter than that. But what I’m talking about is fundamentally alien to many people that I have contact with. Here’s what I mean:
Accessibility is important. I can assume that most people can see, but we still make all our websites accessible to the vision impaired. You can assume that most people have credit cards, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have alternate means of transaction in your online commerce site.
Getting back to the gender issue, the Gender Center Inc. (Sydney, Australlia) points out:
“Gender is a fundamental part of who we are: we perceive ourselves and others through the lens of gender much of the time. Because gender is assumed to be fixed and fundamental, it can be very challenging to people when a person explores different ways of expressing or experiencing gender, or changes gender altogether. Many people experience emotional distress as a result of their own gender issues.”
And even the Australian Bureau of Statistics is (kind of) starting to open its eyes:
“27. A person’s sex may change during their lifetime as a result of procedures known alternatively as Sex change, Gender reassignment, Transsexual surgery, Transgender reassignment or Sexual reassignment. Throughout this process, which may be over a considerable period of time, sex could be recorded as either Male or Female. In clinical settings, diagnosis codes should include the appropriate ICD 10 AM code(s) that clearly identify that the person is undergoing or has completed such a process.”
In Other Words
In other words, sometimes it’s completely appropriate to include an “other” box.