Falsehoods Programmers believe about Gender

Alon Altman
Dec 29, 2015 · 2 min read

You may have read some of highly popular posts regarding falsehoods programmers believe about names, time, geography, and addresses. There is also a short list on github regarding gender. In this post I will expand on things assumed to be true about gender in a similar fashion.

  1. Everyone is male.
  2. Everyone is female.
  3. People are either male or female.
  4. People who are not male or female will be happy to be lumped together under “other”.
  5. A person’s gender never changes.
  6. OK, it might change but only once in a lifetime.
  7. A few times in a lifetime?
  8. Surely not multiple times a day?
  9. Gender is unambiguously defined.
  10. People have a single gender at any given time that they use for all purposes.
  11. A single biological sex?
  12. There are only two biological sexes.
  13. Biological sex is clearly and unambiguously defined.
  14. DNA clearly distinguishes males and females.
  15. OK, but people have only one set of sex chromosomes.
  16. All women can get pregnant and have periods.
  17. Only women can get pregnant and have periods.
  18. Only men have penises.
  19. A person’s gender is obvious by their appearance or tone of voice.
  20. A person’s gender is public information.
  21. Well, not public, but OK to share with people they know.
  22. Maybe not people they know, but surely close friends and family know.
  23. A person’s gender signifies how they wish to be addressed.
  24. A person’s gender signifies what grammatical gender and pronouns to use with them.
  25. A person has one legal gender that is consistent across all their forms of identification.
  26. All legal forms of identification have a person’s gender.
  27. A person’s legal gender can only be male or female.
  28. A person has exactly two parents, a mother and a father.
  29. OK, two biological parents, a mother and a father.
  30. What about one biological parent of each birth sex?
  31. You’re kidding me, right?
  32. In languages that have a grammatical gender, people will always use the same grammatical gender to refer to themselves.
  33. People have genders.

Thanks to Emily Horsman for reviewing pre-publication.

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