That’s A Lot!


One man. Two boys. Twelve kids.

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55 Responses

  1. Troublesome Frog says:

    I remember writing an application for police booking-type operations and noting that they had a fairly long list of options in the standard schema. Strangely, they wanted them presented in the same order as the code numbers the options were given, which resulted in “Female Impersonator” being the default option for an application that would be used on a population of almost entirely men in a strict Muslim country. “Male” was way down there somewhere in the middle. Probably not optimal user interface design.

    OK. Back to discussing more important issues.Report

    • zic in reply to Troublesome Frog says:

      This is a wonderful comment, a story filled with mystery and yet needing no further explanation.

      Although I did spend a few moments parsing why you were writing software to book The Police, presuming the bookings were in stadiums, concert halls, and bars.Report

  2. Stillwater says:

    What boggles this cis male’s mind is why Facebook didn’t do this earlier.

    The reason must be that there all bigots.Report

    • Stillwater in reply to Stillwater says:

      Oops. “they’re”, of course.Report

      • Kazzy in reply to Stillwater says:

        I know I had read complaints on the M/F binary going back years. And nothing changed. Then suddenly they have 50+. I would have assumed more incremental change starting earlier.Report

    • Chris in reply to Stillwater says:

      They didn’t previously see the marketing potential, I’m sure.Report

      • zic in reply to Chris says:

        everything’s a marketing potential on fb.

        I never filled out a profile. So now, it randomly assigns things that are common amongst my friends, most recent, “is attending University of Maine, Augusta,” so that I have to go in and fix it. I presume this is to goad me into completing my profile so that I’m a more marketable commodity.Report

      • dhex in reply to Chris says:

        yeah i was just thinking about this may expand their ad targeting. or not, at least in many cases.

        though were i pitching leftish nonprof orgs i’d want to hit up all the cis* prefixes as the assumption that they’d be pretty close to 1:1 overlap, and in demonstrating such in this public manner, likely to be interested in other public demonstrations of alignment.

        it’d be interesting to see what the age bands for all the descriptors are as well. you could theoretically sort against (presumed) hhi using zips as well.

        long story short i have no idea why anyone using facebook gives up so much personal info in doing so.Report

      • Kazzy in reply to Chris says:

        Is this marketing? I mean, it’s Facebook, so surely it is.

        But their relationship with the gender drop down box has always been a bit perplexing. I don’t do a ton of work on my profile, but I vaguely remember being able to type in an answer to just about everything, save for gender. I could make up a political affiliation or a religion but I couldn’t use my own words for gender. I would understand needing such control on a dating site, where people are going to want to sort by such criteria and thus accuracy and consistency are important. But FB? I never quite got it. Of course, being someone who could easily choose from the binary I was never really struck by it. Most of what I understood about the issue came from reading the experiences of people who did not see a suitable option.

        If nothing else, the variety of terms may be educative. According to Slate, the way in which it works is that you type in what you would like and are then presented with options that contain that. So if you start to type in “man” or “male” you’ll get every term that has the letters m and a in sequence. This is going to present a lot of people with terms they’ve never heard of. The intellectually curious among them might do a bit of Googling and say, “Oh, I had no idea what ‘cis’ meant.” And that is probably a good thing all in all.

        That’s how I learned much of the language contained within the list. I came across it unexpectedly, my curiosity was piqued, and I sought to satiate it. I doubt that is the intent but it might be a fortunate byproduct.

        Though I do think @burt-likko raises legitimate concern about possible negative side effects, especially among young people.Report

      • Chris in reply to Chris says:

        I didn’t think of it as marketing so much as another data dimension they can sell.Report

      • Alan Scott in reply to Chris says:

        So a few days ago, FB stopped showing me marginally terrible gay dating/men’s underwear ads with mostly naked men, and started showing me those really terrible “for male gamers only!” ads with the busty CGI women. At the time, i thought it was weird, but now I realize it’s probably to do with the change in how FB handles gender in profiles.

        I suspect the reason that FB held off on the change for so long is because it makes it harder for them to sell advertisements.Report

      • dhex in reply to Chris says:


        “Is this marketing? I mean, it’s Facebook, so surely it is.”

        yes, and as a longer term strategy it makes a lot of sense. being able to offer “EVEN BETTER TARGETING FOR YOUR ADS” might help raise their fairly pitiful payout…eventually.Report

      • Stillwater in reply to Chris says:

        yes, and as a longer term strategy it makes a lot of sense. being able to offer “EVEN BETTER TARGETING FOR YOUR ADS” might help raise their fairly pitiful payout…eventually.

        Sure. But only balanced against potential use-loss/hassles/negative political fallout of people offended by these inclusions.Report

      • dhex in reply to Chris says:


        “Sure. But only balanced against potential use-loss/hassles/negative political fallout of people offended by these inclusions.”

        granted, but their monetization on the ad scheme kinda sucks so far so they don’t exactly have a lot to lose at this point.

        for the people who would be offended at the multitude of options, what other avenue do they have beyond facebook for facebook-style interactions online?Report

  3. zic says:

    One good thing is that this large selection of terms may, eventually, become common usage and then grammar.Report

    • zic in reply to zic says:

      Mean sort out what becomes common usage.

      Snow storm migraine.Report

    • Brooke in reply to zic says:

      Let’s hope not. Language uses categories precisely to avoid the need to describe each individual occurrence of someone or something in excruciating detail. Throughout our daily lives, we characterize ourselves as any number of things that are approximations and for the most part, it works fine.Report

      • zic in reply to Brooke says:

        Language use is established by how people use language. So this rather astonishing list is the menu of potential, and what people select and use would determine what becomes ‘standard usage.’ The precise definitions of dictionary and rules of grammar follow, not proceed.Report

      • Brooke in reply to Brooke says:

        I’m not arguing that language doesn’t change. I’m just not convinced there’s a need for this. There are many parts of my identity that I have strong feelings about, but that I don’t broadcast the particulars of because they are simply not of interest to most other people. I do not insist that others recognize and reflect them back at me.

        We all use categories that aren’t precise matches every day, in order to facilitate communication. Insisting on the particulars of a given thing is generally not something most people are receptive to, when a general, high-level designation will do the job.Report

  4. LeeEsq says:

    Some of these terms seem to be synonyms.Report

    • NewDealer in reply to LeeEsq says:

      That is what I was thinking. What is the difference between Cis Male, Cis Man, Cisgender Male, and Cisgender Man?Report

      • Maribou in reply to NewDealer says:

        How a person prefers to identify themselves. It’s about as close as you can get to “just write whatever you damn want” without losing the marketing potential, referenced above.

        (It’s not dissimilar to wanting your name spelled correctly, at that level, perhaps? It’s true that there are a bunch of other people whose first name is more or less indistinguishable from my own other by how it is spelled, and yet when people spell mine wrong, THAT”S NOT MY NAME, PEOPLE. If I were constantly forced to pick the wrong name, because my spelling was not an option … grrrrrr.)Report

      • Brooke in reply to NewDealer says:

        There is none. They’re all unnecessarily long synonyms for “male.”Report

      • Stillwater in reply to NewDealer says:

        My guess is that FB surveyed experts in the field of gender nomenclaturology and included just about everything suggested. There’s no harm of over-categorizing things that deserve fine-grained differentiations. Gender identity is pretty personal, and therefore probably deserves to be pretty fine-grained. I’d imagine over time, the list will expand or contract to include whatever descriptors people find useful.Report

      • Kazzy in reply to NewDealer says:

        I think some of these will get use relatively frequently and some of them will get used very infrequently. It might be better to allow users to “check all that apply” because my understanding is that there is much overlap among many of the terms and that some terms represent sub groups of others. There will likely be a good amount of trial-and-error, both by users and by Facebook.

        Regardless of the intent and the likely missteps that will arise, I’m assuming this will be largely welcomed by people who otherwise felt unable to properly identify on FB and I think that is a good thing.

        Of course, that is until the boycotts begin.Report

      • Stillwater in reply to NewDealer says:

        Of course, that is until the boycotts begin.

        That train ain’t never late.Report

      • Kazzy in reply to NewDealer says:

        This is actually a remarkably nuanced and well-reported piece from Fox News:

        It does have a quote from a Focus on the Family person expressing disagreement though it is outnumbered by quotes from people supporting or justifying the change and seems relatively germane given the overall nature of the piece.Report

      • Stillwater in reply to NewDealer says:

        You know, I was a bit flippant in my first comment about attributing the lateness of this to bigotry, but I wouldn’t be surprised if the politics of including those terms was part of the reason why it took them so long. I also wouldn’t be surprised if the controversy about Hannan’s Dr V story amongst other trans gender related items in the news lately sorta smacked them in the head a bit.Report

      • Kazzy in reply to NewDealer says:

        Seeing that they have a transgender person on staff (how long, I don’t know) makes me think it might have been a combination of weighing the potential backlash and, if/when they did do it, trying to do it right. Iterative steps, as I would have predicted, might have been seen as failing half measures. Maybe it was the smarter call to do the big roll out and take the time to get it as right as possible. If they had “just” gone from M/F to M/F/T, they could have just as easily been accused of ignorance for all the options they left out.

        If there are boycotts or mass criticism, my money is on the “Think of the kids!” approach. I doubt many of the drivers of such efforts actually use FB but if they can paint it as FB trying to make their kids hate their private parts… well, I think that is just too juicy for them to ignore.Report

      • LeeEsq in reply to NewDealer says:

        @maribou, the liberal in me applauds the sensitivity but the misanthrope just raises an eye brow and wonders how much validity we have to give to people’s self-conceptions of themselves. Not every trait or way of your describing yourself is a positive.Report

      • Maribou in reply to NewDealer says:

        @leeesq – I don’t see it as particularly sensitive or (outside of there being a broad range of choices regardless as what they are) particularly newsworthy. Any other reaction honestly baffles me as much as the people (and they exist!!) who tell me I spell my name wrong or otherwise evince annoyance at how I spell my name. Gender identity is *complicated and personal*, just like naming. I see that as a feature, and our societal decision(s) to suppress the complexities involved as a particularly annoying bug.

        If it were up to me though, all those profile questions would be blank fill-out-your-own unless there is some self-naming entity (eg a college) that people really want to all get clumped together by. Advertising aggregation could be done using text mining fairly simply, without having to make people pick boxes on any of that stuff – or they could just have a “pick your own” option – which is what custom usually means.

        And it’s not “liberal” sensitivity on my part, although there is probably some leftism in there. Mostly, it’s that I feel pretty complicated things about my own gender (THERE’s the option I’d like to have) and also I’m taking a cataloging class this semester. Taxonomies – their uses, abuses, cognitive roots, societal strictures, etc etc etc etc – are fishing fascinating.Report

      • Kazzy in reply to NewDealer says:


        You’ve had some particular great comments in this thread. Thanks for weighing in.

        Here is a money quote from the Fox article linked above:

        “”There’s going to be a lot of people for whom this is going to mean nothing, but for the few it does impact, it means the world,” said Facebook software engineer Brielle Harrison, who worked on the project and is herself undergoing gender transformation, from male to female.”

        The complaints raised here thus far fail in comparison to the gains realized by people who can accurately represent one of the most fundamental aspects of their being.

        Also, I like your name analogy. I have a difficult to spell and pronounce last name, further complicated by the fact that we do not pronounce it “properly” according to its native language. This leads to people on all sides telling me the “right” way to say it… people unfamiliar with it insisting it doesn’t make sense the way I do it and people familiar with the native language similarly insisting that we’re wrong. Hey… everyone… it’s my name and my family’s name… we’ll pronounce it the way we please.Report

  5. Burt Likko says:

    I’m glad that a more inclusive list, one that takes subtleties and individualities into consideration, has been created. People should be able to express who they really are and there are those for whom neither “male” nor “female” are accurate descriptors.

    But this is confusing.

    I can readily identify as any of “Cis Male, Cis Man, Cisgender Male, and Cisgender Man” and I’m confused about which one of them is the right one to describe me. They all seem precisely synonymous to me.

    And I bet they’ll seem synonymous to marketers, too.

    Then, there are going to be people confronted with all these choices who will not understand what they are being asked to describe about themselves. They may think they are being asked to describe a preference or an orientation rather than an identity. Or who knows what they’ll think. Lots of choices creates lots of opportunity for user error.

    Which, in an age when teenagers are driven by the emotional stress of being taunted on Facebook to attempt and sometimes succeed at suicide, means that user error can be a more serious matter than an adbot making a faux pas.Report

    • Brooke in reply to Burt Likko says:

      I honestly don’t think that the vast majority of people will use this feature seriously. It exists to cater to a very small identity group that, for whatever reason, is very sensitive about the particulars of how this is expressed. It seems to me like it will most often be used for cracking jokes.

      Since when is “two-spirit” a designation of anything gender-related, anyway?Report

  6. Kolohe says:

    “What boggles this cis male’s mind is why Facebook didn’t do this earlier.”

    Come on, you’re familiar with plodding nature of government bureaucracy, and the CIA’s is even more byzantine than most.Report

    • Kim in reply to dragonfrog says:

      akk. if you’re not using unicode in your name, I reserve the right to put it in some format that is universally recognizable.

      If you have a Heart in your name, yeah, that’s on you. I recognize the idea that hearts can be part of a name, but I am not going to keep it in the database.

      (Seriously, I understand that one can have a name in Algonquin, or some other language that isn’t currently mapped in Unicode. Sorry. At some point, we have to say — “choose a name”. It’s a very poor system that doesn’t fit half the world’s population… but oh, god, trying to fit everyone? Don’t do That.)

      Do Not Ever Assume that the Four Quints and the Other Four Quints will be labeled within an hour of their birth. Baby A could belong to either parent. Do not assume the nurses talk to one another, and jointly decide that Baby a-D is one set, and E-H the other.Report

  7. veronica dire says:

    Anyway, this is welcome to me. Although, I am in fact simply leaving my Facebook gender as “female,” since I am a woman and feel no need to fit into the “trans box.” But others want to. This lets them.

    (Plus many non-binary sorts are out there who prefer to reference their explicit queer identity. This is good for them.)

    That said, they still have a pretty narrow pronoun list: he/she/they. I know a few “ze’s” out there who would like that option.

    Anyway, it’s nice to see.Report

    • zic in reply to veronica dire says:

      Does ‘ze’ have any chance of being a gender-neutral singular pronoun?

      That’s what I long for. But I suspect ‘they’ will take continue to expand its role and include that person, male, female, or any other gender.Report

      • Kim in reply to zic says:

        English will continue to be contrary to all known rules of language.
        English is its own polyglot.Report

      • Stillwater in reply to zic says:

        I stumble over personal pronoun use all the time. And in just regular ole, normal life contexts. Eg. last night I was praising the athleticism of a female Olympic athlete and was sorta forced (by our language) to use the word “she” when referring to her, which to my mind confused the point I was trying to make by placing the emphasis on her athleticism given her gender rather than just her athleticism. So I corrected myself to be clearer and used the phrase “that person” (or something similar) so’s to eliminate the gender-related implications of using the word “she”.

        I find this sort of stuff frustrating. Grrr.Report

      • veronica dire in reply to zic says:

        My own practice, which seems common enough among my trans-aware social circles, is this:

        Use singular-they in most situations where a gender neutral pronoun is desired, either when referring an abstract person (“Say you go see a doctor and they want you to…”) or to a person whose gender you do not know (“I’m not sure who checked in that code, but they did not get it reviewed.”)

        Also any non-binary-ish person who select the singular-they.

        (It turns out in my social circles, most of my non-binary-ish friends have selected “they” as their preferred pronoun. I have no face-to-face friends who prefer “ze.”)

        For non-binary-ish people who prefer, I will use something from the “ze” or “xe” family, or whatever else they choose. When I remember, of course. I do my best.Report

  8. Mike Schilling says:

    What’s the difference between Trans and Trans*? (Is the second one just a pointer to a Trans?)Report

    • veronica dire in reply to Mike Schilling says:

      Oh look! A can of worms!

      I wonder what’s inside.

      Okay, so the asterisk after trans thing. It is, well, I mean, kinda hard to explain.

      It is meant as kinda-sorta a wildcard character — I’m serious; this is really how it gets explained — which can mean “transgender,” “transsexual,” or whatever else, but usually it’s meant to include the various flavors of non-binary, genderqueer, gender fluid, agender, etc., all of which are included on the “trans spectrum” — which does not quite include the full range of “gender non-conforming.”

      And if this confused you, well, it confuses everyone.

      Since, after all, the term “transgender” was initially intended to be an umbrella term which included all that is considered “trans*”. But as with much of language, whatever the initial intent, “trans” alone (or even “transgender”) has kinda morphed to mean “fully transsexual,” which leaves folks on the non-binary spectrum kinda unsure if they are included when you just say “trans.” So the asterisk is a way to be sure to include them.

      (I’m setting aside the folks who fit the definition of “transsexual” but hate the word for whatever reason.)

      Okay, but now there are a fuckton of trans folks who HATE (HATE! HATE! HATE! HATEY-MC-HATE-RANT) the asterisk — and it can get pretty goofy with things like “trans*woman” — I mean, what the fuck does that mean that “trans woman” does not?

      Which I guess means it functions sorta like “pansexual” versus “bisexual,” by which, they kinda mean something similar, but if someone says they are “pan,” it is more explicitly trans-inclusive than just “bi.” (Although of course plenty of bi folks are completely trans accepting. It is a question of being explicit.)

      My advice: Lose the asterisk. It looks goofy. Be clear when you use “transgender” that you mean it in the umbrella sense. Easy enough to do.Report

    • veronica dire in reply to Mike Schilling says:

      Oh, and trans folks are all Haskell programmers and we don’t use no stinking pointer arithmetic.

      I mean, seriously!Report

    • Glyph in reply to Mike Schilling says:

      Trans* is Neil Young’s Kraftwerk record (the asterix is actually how Neil Young fans file it, they just have no idea what to make of that one).Report