A few months ago I wrote a post about a new feature we had added to include a gender selection of 'non-specific' to be more inclusive.
- Not specified means "I did not tell you" while non-specific means "I do not fit into the boxes of male or female"
- There is legal precedent under anti-discrimination laws that it is perfectly valid for a person to identify as a non-specific gender, and they may sue if you do not let them
- Australian passports can be issued as M (male), F (female) or X (Indeterminate/ unspecific/intersex)
- Regardless of your personal opinion, intergender and asexual persons exist and forcing them to disclose gender can be a serious problem for them, causing a magnitude of discomfort, contributing to depression and other negative consequences of your interface
- There are over 700,000 intersex individuals in America alone
Since this development has now been in the wild for a few months I decided to do some investigation into how this new option is being used. I found that we have 300 individuals who have specified gender as non-specific.
I think this is the highlight of my career so far! Why exactly? Well...
For these 300 people, I created a positive user experience. Too often are they faced with answering the male / female question, and it's probably a barrier to some people signing up to your mailing list. If you don't let them identify as who they really are, why should they sign up to your company? What are you going to deliver for them?
The suicide rate is disproportionately higher is this population due to an array of factors and hopefully by removing discrimination in our interfaces we can start to break down barriers to improve not only their user experiences, but their human experiences. That 'user' we're designing for is a person, a human being, and must be treated as such with every interaction.