I’ve just been kind-of thinking about this for awhile. It’s not that big a deal, I guess, maybe charts are just the least important thing, but I’ve seen quite a few attempts at finding ways to graphically communicate gender. and I’ve never once seen one that got it “quite right.”
I mean, there’s the obvious no-nos,
which could be vastly improved by adding another option or two, or just a “write it in” box. if you’re collecting gender demographics on a survey, I’d say that the best all-round option for your statistical convenience and to not erase anyone is quite simply
(other, please specify: ______ )
I mean, obviously, if it’s a general-population survey, or a survey that does not specifically focus on gender (esp. on trans, genderqueer, nonbinary etc people), the instances of non-binary respondents is probably going to be low enough that, for statistical purposes, this would suit your needs.
but for purposes other than collecting general-population demographics, sometimes it’s nice to chart things out, to show as many options as possible, to see how things interact.
so then, the next step up the rung from the ‘pick one’ with only two options,
It’s an improvement, but it’s still binarist (really, ‘androgynous’ here is just meaning ‘halfway between male and female’ and isn’t exactly outside the binary) and has limited options.
I thought a long time about (and think I have seen) a representation like this:
(NB= nonbinary, N= neutral/ neutrois/ none/ etc)
Again it’s an improvement… a dot can be placed anywhere within the triangle, or floating out in space with the N-camp (and androgynous here is now between three gender groups). It would still not work for everyone, though, and honestly, there’s still something missing. It’s not very nuanced.
My next thought was anything similar but with more sides - a square, for instance - but it gets too complicated deciding where to label different groups. Perhaps a three-dimensional shape would allow a bit more room for more options - but still, with the place-a-dot setup, it’s… limiting. (Multiple dots for genderfluid people is a huge advantage, but still, what if I can’t get my dot the perfect distance between all the right axes? What if a label I’m looking for is just not there?)
Recently I realized that the biggest issue here is that… dots and sliders and checkboxes are really limiting, in general.
You know what isn’t so limiting?
I’ve looked around a bit and so far as I can tell… nobody else has done this? I don’t see why.
of course, there’s plenty of room to add more gender designations along the X axis.
but my favourite part about this is that it allows one to express negative/ anti/ lack of identity. which… might not seem like it’s such a big thing to some people, to a lot of people. I’m sure the majority of people out there would just fill up the M+ or F+ column really high and leave it at that (mostly cis people) ; I have a feeling a lot of trans people would have some positives and some negatives (e.g. maybe a binary trans man would fill in lots of the +M and -F column).
a genderfluid person could do something like
(which, in this case, would be a genderfluid person who never identifies as masculine, and usually identifies as nonbinary, or something?)
my personal chart is something like
Which just… I mean, I really think this visual is a much better description of how I feel, gender-wise, than any one word ever could be, unless I invented a personal word just for myself… that I would have to define to everyone I met anyways, if I wanted it to make any sense. I call myself “agender” because I don’t really see myself as having any gender; as the chart can show, I don’t really have any “positive” gender feelings… but how negative they are is actually pretty important to me.
…sooo, yeah. that’s my thoughts on charting gender. anyone else?
I think the fill as needed concept would be very fun for those who are more visuals-oriented. Also avoids the problem of male or man or female or woman being on “opposite” poles, and would provide for people adding as many custom fields as they want (note “there’s plenty of room to add more gender designations along the X axis”).
Here are my versions for gender, sex, sexuality, and characteristics. Please note that here I am only writing in categories relevant to my own experience of identity and I am very aware that there are loads more options than what figures into my own identity - check out Yay genderform! for many examples.
My gender chart - M is man, W is woman, GQ is genderqueer, AND is androgyne:
To explain the gender chart: I identified more as “not-girl/woman” (-W) before thinking about the possibility of identifying as boy/man, but this didn’t seem quite right either (-M) - +GQ now seems to be the best fit. +/-AND is because I am still unsure if my identification with the concept of androgyny is more about my interest characteristics considered androgynous and less about gender and I do not always feel strongly about androgyne identification.
My sex chart (M is male and F is female):
Primarily -F unless I am feeling more comfortable with viewing my body as such, otherwise I very much prefer seeing my body as +M and wanting characteristics I identify as male.
My sexuality chart - A is androsexual / androphilic, GM is gay male sexuality, and HF is heterosexual female:
I am very much attracted to men (+A), but I more specifically see my sexuality as being tied to my male identification (+GM). A step towards realizing this to begin with was realizing that heterosexual female identity was not something that made sense to my personal identity (-HF).
My characteristics chart - MA is masculine, FE is feminine, AND is androgynous, and N is neutral.
This refers mostly to what my given society considers masculine, feminine, androgynous, or neutral and how I happen to express this through appearance (this does not, in my case, refer to behavior). I do not really see myself as masculine (mostly -MA), and I enjoy expressing myself in ways that happen to be feminine (+FE, with just a little -) or androgynous (+AND). A fair degree of neutrality (+N) is present because I have trouble viewing my own clothing choices as inherently feminine or androgynous, while acknowledging that others do.
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