Expand Gender options?
Currently core has a Gender field with options in tarball of: Male, Female, Other. There has been a great deal of social change in this area with widespread use of additional terms. In addition, it might be useful to have default questions and options for whether a contact is transgendered and what pronouns they would like.
- Click on Contacts -> New Individual.
- Enter First Name and Last Name and click Save.
I'm going to break up the proposal into several parts that can be discussed and possibly approved separately.
- Add to the list of gender options after Other: Prefer not to specify.
- After Male and before Other, insert new gender options: Non-binary, Genderfluid.
- Change from Female to Female/woman and from Male to Male/man.
- Change the Gender field from single select to multiselect.
- Add a new core field under Gender: Are you transgender? Yes, No, Prefer not to specify.
- Add a new core field under the above: What pronouns do you use? He/him/his, She/her/hers, They/them/theirs, Zie/hir/hirs, Other.
- Make the field for Pronouns multiselect.
An alternative that might make sense is to do some of this in an extension. Another alternative would be to assist with best practices by providing questions or options but defaulting to disabled.
Here is a note from an organization that works in this area in response to my query on behalf of a client for a longer list of genders:
Coming up with a universal list of terminology to describe trans people can be difficult, since the exact terms used to describe the concepts involved varies dramatically from language to language and culture to culture. While trans communities in Canada and the US tend to use the same terminology, it can vary even with other majority Anglophone countries, to say nothing of the rest of the world.
There is a lot of discussion out there in the data world about how best to record sexual orientation and gender identity (or “SOGI”) data, and best practices depend on the field in question. That said, a good starting point is to divide things into four questions framed like so:
What is your gender? (select all that apply)
a. Female/woman b. Male/man c. Non-binary d. Genderfluid e. Other f. Prefer not to specify
Are you transgender?
a. Yes b. No c. Prefer not to specify
What pronouns do you use? (select all that apply)
a. He/him/his b. She/her/hers c. They/them/theirs d. Zie/hir/hirs e. Other
Breaking things out like this has several advantages. First, it recognizes that “transgender” is not itself a gender identity, but is an umbrella category that includes certain men, women, and non-binary and genderfluid people. It simplifies the first question, keeping a shorter list for people to have to scroll through to find the proper term to describe themselves. It also allows organizations to easily modify the list to fit their specific use cases – an organization working in Samoa or with a significant Samoan population could add “fa’afafine” to the list while one dealing with a significant Native/First Nations population could add “two-spirit.”
It also permits trans individuals to interact with the organization without either lying or outing themselves, by not forcing them to select either (for example) “cisgender woman” or “transgender woman.” (If you’re not familiar with the term, ‘cisgender’ is a word indicating a person who is not ‘transgender’.) In fact, it also allows the organization to sort their data in such a way that they don’t unnecessarily out trans people to staff and volunteers, by allowing them to pull a list of all women or all men that doesn’t automatically flag whether or not they are transgender.
In addition, it reflects the fact that not all non-binary and genderfluid people consider themselves to fit under the “transgender” umbrella – this is a complicated issue that’s largely unknown outside of the larger LGBTQ community, and is often disregarded by organizations working with these communities.
Finally, it flags the most useful information – what pronouns to use when referring to the person – into a separate easy to reference field that can be included on a display screen or other record without being specifically tied to someone’s transgender status.
Of course, this is only scratching the surface of the issues that might be relevant to a specific organization’s needs. For instance, they should also consider having a separate “legal name” and “preferred name” field – the former is something that would only be referenced when writing checks or otherwise transacting business in the person’s legal name, but have the “preferred name” be what actually displays for all other interactions with the person. This would also allow cisgender people who primarily go by a short form, initials, or nickname to have that be displayed instead of their full name.
A medical organization, meanwhile, might need to collect information on whether or not someone is intersex, or what their “gender assigned at birth” is, and there can be a lot of ways to capture this information based on how the organization interacts with its staff and patients.
For additional discussion on collecting SOGI data, with multiple examples, please take a look at these resources: