I spent this afternoon at a college health fair as a representative of the AIDS service org I volunteer for. It was your pretty basic scenario, with young men strutting up and taking the large condoms, while the young women picked up the regular size.
I got a really interesting question from a woman who identified herself as a counselor with the school’s mental health services. She said that they were working on an intake form for students who want to see a mental health professional, and were wondering how to pose the question of the student’s gender. She said that the current form has check boxes: “Gender: ___Male ___Female” but that they’ve been criticized for not being inclusive enough, so they were thinking of adding a third checkbox: ___transgender.
We started off by talking about the choice of using the word “gender” and making it binary as opposed to using the word “sex” for binary bits. And yes, I know that this binary is questionable, but frequently when an intersex baby is born, someone (not the baby) chooses for the baby to be one or the other.
What I ended up suggesting is the follows:
Sex: ___Male ___Female
Gender identity: ___________
I’m sure there are problems with this, but my thinking is that people who think in binary terms will be content to ignore the open-ended gender identity question, and people who are genderqueer will be delighted to fill in gender identity and take or leave sex. And then everyone will live happily ever after.