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Transgendered Folks Encountering Document/Database ID Hassles

Soulskill posted about 10 months ago | from the flipping-bits dept.

Databases 814

An anonymous reader writes "Most of us hear the equivalent of 'let me bring up your record' several times a week or month when dealing with businesses and government agencies; sometimes there's a problem, but clerks are accustomed to dealing with changes in street address, phone numbers, company affiliation, and even personal names (after marriage). But what about gender? Transgendered folks are encountering embarrassing moments when they have to explain that their gender has changed from 'M' to 'F' or vice versa. While there are many issues involved in discrimination against transgendered individuals, I have to confess that the first thing that came to my mind was the impact on database design and maintenance."

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814 comments

WTF (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44017903)

Please

Re:WTF (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44018077)

Oh noes, some freaks might be slightly uncomfortable explaining the surgery they claim to be proud of. Quick, call the whaaaaaambulance!

Speaking of which ever watch Family Guy and notice that Peter Griffin's chin looks like a scrotum with two testicles in it?

Re:WTF (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44018225)

i farted? mod me up!

Re:WTF (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44018275)

No shit. So I guess we solved the deficit, the budget, poverty, the world's energy needs, pollution, our under-performing schools, crime, war, and all of that, so now we can afford to worry about a tiny minority of people who knew going into it that these awkward moments would come. Wah. Must be a slow news day.

Hey sometimes in my life I get a little embarassed too. Why just the other day my debit card was declined and that was as inconvenient as explaining a lifestyle choice to a disinterested stranger who doesn't give a shit. Where's MY slashdot story?

:3 (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44017907)

I think this entire situation is so unique an interesting.

Re::3 (2, Interesting)

KGIII (973947) | about 10 months ago | (#44018263)

It may be unique but it is becoming more common. For better, or worse, we will need to figure something out at some point.

I have some ethical questions about "fixing" what is a mental health issue with something so drastic as surgery but I'm fortunate to not be in that position so I'm not sure my ethics matter.

So yeah it is interesting. There's a site that I frequent which has an amazingly high percentage of transgendered people on it. (It is Fark actually.) They have, for whatever reason, managed to attract a lot of them. I've made it a point to be open minded and to listen to them (I don't much care as it doesn't apply to me but I am a curious person) and I'm not sure that I agree that modifying the body to fix a mental illness is a good solution.

Either way, there's going to be conflicts in databases. There are going to be issues and bathrooms and additional healthcare are a couple of places where this is going to come into play as it becomes more popular. There are plenty of bigger problems with society though so this isn't all that important. If you dye your hair then you put your real hair color on the form at the DMV. If you wear contacts to the appointment at the DMV you still tell them that you need corrective lenses to drive even though they can't see them. But, well, none of those changes are permanent. Then again, sex changes may not be considered permanent either. So, it's a quandary and we're going to have to face it eventually. We can't stuff it into the closet and hope it resolves itself.

Now, HOW we resolve this will be a measure of our growth as a society. That, though, is a topic for another day.

Re::3 (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44018287)

There are a lot of biological causes for transgenderism, the mental health issues stem from these, not the other way round. A lot of people find that just going on HRT fixes long standing anxiety and depression that nothing else has been able to touch.

Genetically speaking... (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44017931)

Nothing has really changed...

Re:Genetically speaking... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44017959)

Quack Quack

Re:Genetically speaking... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44018051)

it is not so simple because if you take a genetically male embryo and damage a single gene, for testosterone sensitivity, it will develope into a female who is perfect except they are infertile and larger than average, but not at all masculine.

Re:Genetically speaking... (4, Insightful)

KGIII (973947) | about 10 months ago | (#44018345)

They don't do the surgery on embryos. Err... Do they? I also believe there is one case where they changed their gender back. What do we call them (besides a fellow human)? I think the simplest solution may be to stop keeping track of gender at all except where medically necessary and allow people to fill the roles that they feel suit them best.

Re:Genetically speaking... (1)

LordLimecat (1103839) | about 10 months ago | (#44018401)

What percentage, would you say, of cases does that represent?

Would you say that is a significant portion of the population, statistically?

Re:Genetically speaking... (-1, Troll)

retchdog (1319261) | about 10 months ago | (#44018063)

genetically speaking, kidney donors still have both kidneys; dyed hair is still blonde; lasik patients still can't see for shit; and despite a corrected cleft palate, you're still a disgusting freak.

Re:Genetically speaking... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44018149)

genetically speaking, kidney donors still have both kidneys; dyed hair is still blonde; lasik patients still can't see for shit; and despite a corrected cleft palate, you're still a disgusting freak.

Hair color is an excellent example, if someone has dyed their hair purple, do you put 'Purple' for the hair color in the DMV database?

If they get contact lenses implanted, and the contacts also change their eye color to 'Orange', do you put 'Orange' for eye color in the database?

I think it really comes down to what is the database used for, if it's for a dating site, 'Purple' hair and 'Orange' eyes is probably appropriate, but if it's a government database for identification, the unmodified/natural color would be more appropriate. I think the same should be true for gender.

Re:Genetically speaking... (1)

noh8rz10 (2716597) | about 10 months ago | (#44018235)

makes no sense. if the whole point is to identify people, you would want a database that describes what they look like.

Re:Genetically speaking... (1)

Immerman (2627577) | about 10 months ago | (#44018167)

Well no, not yet anyway. But with no knowledge of their past or genetics you'd certainly notice a difference if you found yourself in bed with them either before or after the operation.

I'm sure it's coming eventually though - a quick DNA swab from your father and we'll have this retrovirus swap out the DNA you would have gotten if you had recieved his X chromosome instead of his Y. Then just a couple weeks in a bio-bed as we catalyze the propagation of genetic changes to biological ones.

Re:Genetically speaking... (5, Informative)

marauder (30027) | about 10 months ago | (#44018195)

An indicator for M/F isn't recording anything much about genetic sex. If that's what you're setting out to do you'll need a much bigger box: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sex_chromosome_disorders [wikipedia.org]

Even for people with standard-issue XX or XY sex chromosomes, the journey from that to phenotypical gender is about a six-stage process. Most people arrive at one of two endpoints, but that still leaves another 62 or so different bit-patterns for phenotypical gender, and as the article suggests the low-order bits can be flipped after birth. A write-only boolean field doesn't really do the job.

Re:Genetically speaking... (2)

Trepidity (597) | about 10 months ago | (#44018293)

If we were just talking about genes, it wouldn't appear in most database records or on ID cards, since those don't normally include catalogs of chromosomes.

Brings a new meaning to the term (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44017937)

Binary gender
(seriously, a number of places I've seen that track gender do it with a boolean)

Re:Brings a new meaning to the term (1)

olsmeister (1488789) | about 10 months ago | (#44017975)

Boolean should still work fine, as long as it's not read only. The issue is that they are changing it.

Re:Brings a new meaning to the term (2)

Immerman (2627577) | about 10 months ago | (#44018027)

And why not? Call the column isMale or isFemale instead of Gender to avoid any confusion and you're good to go, while making it technically impossible to enter invalid data and sidestepping any issues of character based data in non-canonical form.

Of course that breaks down a bit when encountering hermaphrodites or asexuals (biological ones, we're not discussing sexual orientation), but those are such a vanishingly small percentage of the population that it's unlikely the database would be coded to handle them anyway.

Full-spectrum gender? (2)

Immerman (2627577) | about 10 months ago | (#44018111)

Hmm, on second thought gender is actually a fairly poorly defined concept in medical terms. We tend to classify people based on whether they come equipped with a slot or a dongle, but that's just the most obvious marker, and doesn't necessarily correlate well with several other biological gender properties (as hilighted not-so-recently by that African female olympic runner)

I suppose a more accurate measure would be a floating point value indicating the degree and polarity of genderdness, but that would still have trouble distinguishing asexuals and hermaphrodites. Perhaps two semi-independent values indicating degree of maleness and femaleness? I doubt anyone would want to get a thorough medical exam just to be able to put a number in a box though, much less have any particular desire to share that data. And even if we could formulate the tests I imagine there could be significant personal and sociological fallout from quantifying such a thing on a wide basis, and not necessarily much benefit.

Re:Full-spectrum gender? (1)

KGIII (973947) | about 10 months ago | (#44018369)

Sliding scale, left male and right female, with asexual being smack dab in the center?

Re:Brings a new meaning to the term (2)

FatdogHaiku (978357) | about 10 months ago | (#44018247)

Of course that breaks down a bit when encountering hermaphrodites or asexuals (biological ones, we're not discussing sexual orientation), but those are such a vanishingly small percentage of the population that it's unlikely the database would be coded to handle them anyway.

So, they won't be recoding Match.com?
Hermaphrodites getting together could make for some serious hookups... vapor lock, even...

If you use both isMale and isFemale they can be Boolean and you have all bases covered. 1 and 1 for hermaphrodites, and 0 and 0 for asexuals... anybody else should be a 0 and 1 or 1 and 0.

Do not understand this. (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44017939)

TFS says they encounter embarassing moments when they have to explain why they changed from M to F. Why would this be embarrassing for them? It's something they elected to do. Would having a box saying M -> F or F -> M be less embarrassing?

I could see this being an inconvenience for them, but it's an inconvenience they chose to take on. Supposedly this is more than made up for by the fact they can live the rest of their life how they feel they should be.

No sympathy. Do not change anything.

Re:Do not understand this. (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44018065)

Who the hell voted this up?

The reason why it's embarrassing is because trans people are still treated like crap by a large portion of society and we'd rather not have our private lives paraded around in front of others so that we can be treated like a fucking circus exhibit. That's why.

Besides, for most things you don't even NEED to know our gender.

Re:Do not understand this. (1, Troll)

Brett Buck (811747) | about 10 months ago | (#44018117)

If you don't want that, then don't turn yourself into a circus attraction. These people are mentally disturbed. Not only are we not getting them the assistance they need, we are absolutely encouraging them to mutilate themselves based on their delusions, and trying to force everyone else to think it's a genetic imperative and indulge them in every way possible.

Re:Do not understand this. (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44018207)

I imagine you're part of the "pray the gay away" crowd.

Just because you think it's a mental disorder, and that they are circus freaks, and that they are delusional, and that they are mutilating themselves, doesn't mean it's so. All it does is show that you are an insensitive and ignorant asshole.

Re:Do not understand this. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44018211)

Transgender people are born transgender.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Causes_of_transsexualism#Biological-based_theories

But what would I know, I'm only trans myself.

Go and cisplain somewhere else you vile ignorant prick.

Re:Do not understand this. (5, Interesting)

venicebeach (702856) | about 10 months ago | (#44018315)

Transgender people are born transgender. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Causes_of_transsexualism#Biological-based_theories [wikipedia.org] But what would I know, I'm only trans myself. Go and cisplain somewhere else you vile ignorant prick.

No offense, but being transgendered does not automatically make you an authority on the origins of transexualism ( just as being human does not in itself make one an expert on the origins of humanity. )

The degree to which transgender people are born transgender is quite an open question, and there is currently not a whole lot of strong evidence to support that claim (as reflected in the wikipedia article you linked to -- evidence of genetic contributions is scant, and differences in brain structure cannot indicate innateness). Most likely transgenderism involves a complex interaction of genetic, epigenetic, hormonal, developmental, psychological and social factors.

In some sense I understand why transexual people and gay people (the majority of whom in my experience seem to be committed to the idea that sexual orientation is innate) want this to be the case -- we have good societal analogies for a class of people who are innately different gaining equal status. But in the long run the case for equal rights and humane treatment should probably separate itself from this question, which is purely scientific and far from settled. If the case for equal rights is built upon such an assumption, it may fall like a house of cards as science progresses, and the fact is that we should treat people humanely regardless of the origins of their condition.

Re:Do not understand this. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44018233)

Hi, I can insult you too.

Re:Do not understand this. (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44018251)

and also, with obamacare, we're paying for it!

Re:Do not understand this. (1)

Trepidity (597) | about 10 months ago | (#44018301)

Hey guys I know what I could add to this already shitty thread, a political jab directed at Obama!

Re:Do not understand this. (4, Insightful)

Immerman (2627577) | about 10 months ago | (#44018295)

How is it substantially different from getting a boob or nose job? We pander to people's dissatisfactions with their bodies left, right, and center, what's one more indulgence?

And it's not like gender is a two-state classification to begin with, for all that we like to pretend it's fully determined by what's between your legs (and even by that measure there are still a few individuals who are either both or neither). Physical gender is actually the combination of several largely independent biological properties, so if you could somehow measure your "maleness" and "femaleness" the two numbers would not necessarily bear any relationship to each other. In fact the discrepancies can get so extreme that there are occasionally people born whose physical gender is actually at odds with their genetic gender - sometimes puberty can trigger at least a partial transformation (I seem to remember reading about a south-american villiage where this is actually not uncommon - some promiscuous ancestor several generations back with an interesting genetic anomaly), but some people only discover the discrepancy when getting a genetic test for unrelated reasons.

 

Re:Do not understand this. (2)

KGIII (973947) | about 10 months ago | (#44018399)

Comments like this make me proud to have had you on my "foes" list for a good long time. You're going to die. Hopefully your place is taken up by someone more open minded, more sympathetic, and more understanding. No, I'm not a transgendered person. I see them as mentally ill, certainly, but I don't see that as a bad thing - just a thing that they are and of no concern of mine. They don't deserve pity, they don't deserve extra attention, they don't deserve anything special - they deserve to be treated as individuals who are judged by their deeds.

Re:Do not understand this. (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44018159)

Well, yeah.. Instead of taking their crappy self image out on their bodies, maybe they should get with reality? If you're male, you're male.. if you're female, you're female. If your genes are fucked up, your genes are fucked up. If you mutilate yourself because of that, one, you're not fooling anyone, and two, you end up being a freakshow to both genders.

Re:Do not understand this. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44018161)

Who the hell voted this up?

It's voted up because it brought up some good points, which I'll restate:

  • Sex-change operations are obviously completely optional and up to the person choosing to undergo the operation.
  • Why is it embarrassing? Is it embarrassing to be around people who knew you before the transformation? If yes, see point one. If not, then why should it be embarrassing to have to explain the situation to a total stranger? If you care so much about what strangers might (or might not) be thinking, you have insecurity issues that won't be resolved by changing ID processes.

Re:Do not understand this. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44018203)

XY = Male ... XX = Female

Re:Do not understand this. (4, Insightful)

camperdave (969942) | about 10 months ago | (#44018319)

XY = Male ... XX = Female

What if you're mixed? There are XX males and XY females. XXY and XYY are also possible. Sometimes twins are conceived, but one absorbs the other. It's not quite as simple as you make it out to be.

Re:Do not understand this. (3, Informative)

Oligonicella (659917) | about 10 months ago | (#44018365)

To the biologically illiterate AC:

47,XXX
48, XXXX
49 XXXXY syndrome
49, XXXXX
Klinefelter's syndrome
Turner syndrome
XX gonadal dysgenesis
XX male syndrome
XXYY syndrome
XYY syndrome

Re:Do not understand this. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44018127)

Database should have support for non-boolean Sex field anyway:

M
F
Y
N

Re:Do not understand this. (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44018141)

It is not a choice. It's who someone is. A lot of people feel like they're not in either one of the two "Gender" categories.

If for any reason, someone is trans-gendered it should be made as easy as possible. There's already enough bigotry and phobia out there making their (and our) lives miserable.

The SSA has now formalised their new arrangements recently to reflect on recent developments and have dropped requirements for surgery from their process [ http://www.advocate.com/politics/transgender/2013/06/14/social-security-removes-surgical-requirement-gender-marker-change ]

While I may not fully understand why it happens, I try my best to make trans folk feel as comfortable as I can. When you live with someone who has faced all the discrimination, sat through the tears or seen the pain in their eyes just for trying to be something they hate less than the alternative, you'd be slightly more understanding.

Trans people are people too.

Re:Do not understand this. (1)

KGIII (973947) | about 10 months ago | (#44018423)

I believe his point was that the surgery was optional. That's a tough one to argue against and while I appreciate your sentiment I'm not entirely certain that it applies. As you can probably tell (if you make the effort, which is doubtful and that's not a comment against you but rather an observation of reality) you'll see my posts are supportive and understanding. Your desire to lash out is neither commendable or necessary. The surgery to change one's gender is elective and shouldn't be a source of embarrassment.

Re:Do not understand this. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44018143)

Moreover, why is this even posted on Slashdot? In what bizzaro universe is news for the sexually indeterminate considered 'news for geeks' or 'stuff that matters'?

The increasing number of stories on slashdot completely immaterial to anyone but a miniscule few makes me wonder whether the website I once used to enjoy visiting has jumped the shark completely into the sea of irrelevance.

Re:Do not understand this. (4, Insightful)

jamesh (87723) | about 10 months ago | (#44018153)

What I understand even less is that my gender needs to be noted in most databases anyway. There are still rules saying that as a male I can only marry a female (which for me works well), so I guess the government needs to know so that they can stop me pissing off their god by marrying someone of the same sex. And maybe my insurance company needs to know so they can better charge me according to my risk. But the various utility companies don't need to know, and neither does my bank. A title (Mr/Ms/Lord/Lady/Dr/Comrade etc) or something might be required which would hint at gender but that would be about it.

Re:Do not understand this. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44018215)

"It goes with the territory", I was told in a different situation. Sometimes, like a transgender situation, being questioned about gender discrepancies is just part of the situation. The person in the first linked story didn't make a clean break--she did not change her gender identity on her drivers license. Seems like an oversight on her part but there are good business to correctly identify your customer. The car salesperson appropriately asked about the discrepancy--it was not discrimination just a good business practice. Can you imagine how the owner of the business (a car dealership in the first linked story) would react to employees not correctly identifying a test-driver?

Re:Do not understand this. (3, Informative)

cold fjord (826450) | about 10 months ago | (#44018351)

Supposedly this is more than made up for by the fact they can live the rest of their life how they feel they should be.

Maybe. There are people that do regret it. If you do, there's no magic reset available. On this earth you will never fully be again what you once were.

Are sex change operations justified? [bbc.co.uk]

Sex changes are not effective, say researchers [guardian.co.uk]

'I will never be able to have sex again. Ever' [theage.com.au]

But what worries other psychiatrists is the mounting evidence that surgery may not actually improve the lives of those who feel they were born with the wrong body. A review of more than 100 international studies of post-operative transsexuals by the University of Birmingham found there was no scientific evidence that surgery was effective and, in many cases, patients were left feeling more distressed. Baltimore's Johns Hopkins University — which housed one of the pioneer gender clinics — no longer performs sex-change surgery due to such concerns.

A recent British review found suicide rates of up to 18 per cent among people who had undergone gender reassignment surgery. Doctors from London's Portman Clinic say they see many patients who feel trapped in "no-man's land" after surgery, finding themselves with a body which is no longer recognisable as male or female. Psychotherapy, the experts believe, may have saved them from such a fate but few gender clinics offer it. -- more [theage.com.au]

Long-term follow-up of transsexual persons undergoing sex reassignment surgery [nih.gov]

It's a difficult issue for all concerned.

Gov. Work (4, Interesting)

fekmist (2857907) | about 10 months ago | (#44017945)

I used to work for the government of Canada at an agency which I cannot name. I ran into an awkward situation when I was speaking with a woman who had recently gotten married to another woman and as I was putting the info in, the software I was using told me there was an error that needed to be corrected before proceeding. I was both embarrassed and furious. I could not believe our software was not written with same sex couples in mind and I apologized to her and kept on going with the rest of call. I doubt this issue has been fixed yet, this happened about a year ago.

Re:Gov. Work (2)

TheRealMindChild (743925) | about 10 months ago | (#44017997)

Ten years ago, I wouldn't even think that such a database exception would ever exist. It seemed like same-sex marriages would never be legal anywhere here in the states.

Re:Gov. Work (3, Insightful)

N_Piper (940061) | about 10 months ago | (#44018039)

You can't believe something that has only been able to be talked about in public for less than 15 years (legal homosexsual marage) wasn't in your lowest bidder made, god knows how old Government computer system?
I'll admit I don't know everything about Canada but I thought cynicism to Bureaucratic BS was taught everywhere.
I understand apologising but if that sort of oversight is actually surprising to you, well I'll just say get used to it.

Re:Gov. Work (2, Informative)

quacking duck (607555) | about 10 months ago | (#44018177)

You can't believe something that has only been able to be talked about in public for less than 15 years (legal homosexsual marage) wasn't in your lowest bidder made, god knows how old Government computer system?

You got it wrong. The unbelievable part is that the lowest bidder developed software bothered to take time to add and test such a check in the first place.

My own encounters with development houses included software that by the time it reached us for the first round of testing, still didn't have some of the most basic security checks... like don't use incremental counters as user record IDs in the URL seen by the user over the internet (fundamental design error), and for frak sake don't pull up someone else's record if they simply change the ID in the URL.

This actually happened to a new application/renewal system Passport Canada put online, about 5-7 years ago. The glaring security hole was discovered and reported on the news soon after, and they took the system down pretty quickly after that.

Re:Gov. Work (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44018071)

Why could you not believe that the software was not written with same sex partners in mind? Government software is old, same sex marriages are new. Did you think the world only came into being when you were born?

That's like living in 1965 and being surprised that there was anything ever called segregation.

Oh, wait, you're shocked because you are so very progressive. Thanks for sharing.

Re:Gov. Work (-1, Troll)

epyT-R (613989) | about 10 months ago | (#44018189)

Why would you be embarrassed? The software was designed for typical situations. That is reasonable. It's not your fault or the fault of the software designer. It's the fault of the few trying to live some kind of sexual fetish.

Oh no (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44017953)

Those poor 0.0000001%. It's so tough for them.

Re:Oh no (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44018079)

I presume you'll be fine with the doctors refusing to help you when you get struck down with some rare form tropical disease then?

A problem being suffered by a minority is still a problem.

Make it optional (4, Insightful)

jfdavis668 (1414919) | about 10 months ago | (#44017991)

Make the field optional. In addition to male and female, add both and neither. Also, review the reason you even keep that information. It may not be necessary at all.

Re:Make it optional (4, Informative)

geminidomino (614729) | about 10 months ago | (#44018033)

If you follow Fed guidelines in the US, it already is. "Indeterminate" and "Declined to Respond" are both required to be supported in any EHR software in order to meet "Meaningful Use" requirements.

Re:Make it optional (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44018107)

can we please just stop with the bullshit already? you can cut off your dick and take all the hormones you want. you are STILL a male. Just like if you get colored contacts to change your eyes from green to blue, you STILL have green eyes.... This political correctness bullshit is more annoying than aanything

Re:Make it optional (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44018151)

can we please just stop with the bullshit already? you can cut off your dick and take all the hormones you want. you are STILL a male. Just like if you get colored contacts to change your eyes from green to blue, you STILL have green eyes.... This political correctness bullshit is more annoying than aanything

Thank you. This is basically exactly what I was going to say.

Re:Make it optional (1)

Trepidity (597) | about 10 months ago | (#44018321)

If someone surgically changed their eye color, the eye color listed on their driver's license actually would change. It's based on your actual eye color, not on your eye-color genotype or your eye color at birth.

A more common case is that people's hair color sometimes changes during their lifetime, e.g. from blonde when young to brown when older. If that happens, the record is updated. It's not really that hard.

The real question is, (1)

LandGator (625199) | about 10 months ago | (#44017993)

Why does the gubbmint need to know what our parts are? Unless it involves public health or medical care, it's irrelevant unless you live in Big Brother land.

Re:The real question is, (0)

jamesh (87723) | about 10 months ago | (#44018179)

Why does the gubbmint need to know what our parts are? Unless it involves public health or medical care, it's irrelevant unless you live in Big Brother land.

I posted the same question about most other databases. The government is different though - they need to know so they can forbid you from marrying the same gender, and so they can throw you in the right prison when you do.

I call bull! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44017995)

I work with a transgender dude at work and he LOVES this shit. That is the main reason (s)he did it, he wants a LOT of attention.
He is a lot of fun though, he still have beard growth so when he is lazy and cant be bothered to shave he looks a riot! Sometime he comes to work dressed in his old man clothes and claims he is then a transvestite! xD

BTW. Their gender has NOT changed, only their appearance.

Re:I call bull! (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44018139)

So because there is one exhibitionist out there, everyone must be an exhibitionist? Does that also mean that, because you're a bigot, everyone must be a bigot?

I'm in my mid-30s and just starting down the road of correcting my body. It is because of people like you that, despite knowing since I was 3 years old, I tried to live in denial. It is because of people like you that trans people have a suicide rate nearly 3 times higher than gay people. So you don't support us because you don't even try to understand us... that's fine. But don't belittle us.

I didn't wake up one day and decide that I want to spend $50-100k (just facial electrolysis can cost anywhere from $5k and up and can't be done in one session, it takes months, sometimes several years, to catch all of the hair follicles during their growth phase so you can kill them), have to endure the social stigma of telling my friends and family - all while knowing that I would lose some of them in the process, etc on a whim. I've struggled to deal with who I am for my entire life and I've been suicidally depressed for most of the last ten years. My need to change stems from the fact that, if I don't, I cannot continue to live this life in the way I was forced to.

There are lots of reasons behind gender issues ranging from genetic to in utero underexposure to hormones (or chemicals that mimic estrogen being present in our public water supply). It's amazing that, in a day where we can accept people are born gay, that it isn't a choice, that we will mock and degrade people who feel that their external sex doesn't match their internal gender.

I hope one day, something doesn't cause you to face the same ridicule you're so happy to perpetrate on others...

Some new questions for govt paperwork (0, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44018009)

Do you have testicles?
Have you ever had testicles?

Please check M if either of these questions are Yes

Re:Some new questions for govt paperwork (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44018095)

It would be more accurate to ask if a person has ever had ovaries.

It's pretty easy to get fake testes. and we're likely soon to find people getting testicle transplants. But we're far away from being able to give a person ovaries and all the other organs necessary to make them function, far away as in it won't happen in our life times.

Living (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44018013)

Databases are annoying, as no-one really models gender changing over time (most glaring to me in the medical industry, where I work). That said, i'd much rather see something done about the reactions of people, rather than the contents of databases. I now live 600 miles from my hometown, because I got tired of being physically attacked for being myself in public. Show me how changing a database table will turn around a truck full of beer 'buzzed' rednecks, and i'm all game.

Anonymous, for all the wrong reasons. I'd rather post as myself, but I've learned not to be honest in public, unless I want death threats. Thanks for the 5 minutes of attention, but we've got trouble all day.

Re:Living (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44018121)

look. in a civilized world, there are rules. if you dont play by the rules, you will get laughed at, you will get made fun of.

you made the choice to do what you did, you dont get to decide that everyone else has to accept it.

other problems too (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44018017)

Here everyone gets a "central person register number" at birth, comprised of the birth date and 4 check digits, the last one odd for male even for female, changing a name form john to johanna isn't such a big issue but getting a new new CPR number is not so easy

Recently there was the problem that some government database would only accept two CPR numbers of different sex as parents

I think ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44018021)

... we have a lot of more important problems to work on.

Gender shouldn't be in the DB in the first place (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44018031)

The real problem is that the gender is stored in the database. Apart from medical databases, there are no good reasons (imho) to store the gender of a person. The only even remotely useful reason would be to identify the person (to track kidnapped people or criminals), but cross-dressing has existed long before gender reassignment surgery was even possible.

Well, the other reason is to discriminate against some gender. And if you absolutely want to discriminate, just put unusual people in the currently most discriminated category (which I guess is F in most countries). That works both for positive and negative discrimination.

Re:Gender shouldn't be in the DB in the first plac (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44018415)

really? you cant think of one good reason?? perhaps a medical issue that only hits men or only hits women?? i mean just because you cut off your dick, you are still a dude.

No Way (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44018047)

.. this is an extension of a political agenda.. Politics is the same everywhere, some group of people trying to find a lever to power. Subject is "No Way" meaning no way give in to slippery slope arguments that are backed by a political will agenda by an extreme minority.

    Be Unique! Be Free of Harassment - yes!
but collective will for political power, No Way.

Why record M/F at all? It should be removed (1)

OrangeTide (124937) | about 10 months ago | (#44018075)

I can understand the database keeping track of a salutation like Mr/Ms/Miss/Mrs/Dr/Rev/etc. And a salutation can of course change, a Miss can easily become a Dr or Mrs.

The status of M/F doesn't usually seem necessary for customer service or governments, as using personal pronouns can be ambiguous or unnecessary. But the salutation can be a convenient, comfortable and respectful way to address a person on the phone.

Discrimination (3, Insightful)

sincewhen (640526) | about 10 months ago | (#44018099)

This illustrates how discrimination is embedded in our society. We want to know details about someone (gender) so that we can assume other things (entitlement to maternity leave, say). But this supports treating people differently. The entitlement should be that anyone who gives birth or (or perhaps adopts) a baby is entitled to the leave. No need to identify gender.

Sex versus Gender (1)

girlintraining (1395911) | about 10 months ago | (#44018105)

. But what about gender? Transgendered folks are encountering embarrassing moments when they have to explain that their gender has changed from 'M' to 'F' or vice versa.

Transgendered folks are still having to explain to people like the original poster that 'M' and 'F' designate sex, not gender. There's a wide variety of reasons why a person's sex needs to be recorded, at least medically. A transgendered woman will have different medical needs than a non-transgendered woman, and the same for men. But for some reason, despite research going back over fifty years now, we still idiotically only have one field, with two options.

Re:Sex versus Gender (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44018253)

> A transgendered woman will have different medical needs than a non-transgendered woman

Absolutely true. As a simple example, a man that considers himself a woman needs to be placed in a jail for men. I wouldn't want someone with a penis placed into a cell with me even though I was born a women but now consider myself a man.

What really needs to happen is that the information needs to have two separate entries for sex. One for birth and another for current. For example, my license should say born a F but now an M. If I was arrested, I should be placed in the F jail, but when dealing with an officer, the M should be the value considered. The few times I've dealt with LEOs, having a separate M field would have simplified my interaction. I'm a female biologically, but cops get very confused when they think they're dealing with a man, but my license has an F on it.

Re:Sex versus Gender (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44018261)

LOL at ./'s annoying "You failed to confirm you are a human." error message. So because I'm transgendered I'm not human? Go screw yourself's you typical CONservatives at /.. I'm human. Stop claiming that I am not human.

Re:Sex versus Gender (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44018329)

You are part of the problem. Your license should contain the sex that you are. It should not have a damn M on it. You are a bitch. You are not a man.

Re:Sex versus Gender (-1, Troll)

epyT-R (613989) | about 10 months ago | (#44018409)

Sex IS gender, no matter what twisted PC redefinitions and 'research' the college campus queers are throwing around these days. These people think gender is some kind of social construct instead of something that is very closely tied to biology. They're as whack as the scientologists.

gender a : sex
b : the behavioral, cultural, or psychological traits typically associated with one sex

http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/gender [merriam-webster.com]

So an extreme minority has to explain to most people why they need special treatment? What else is new? Even a straight white male with a broken leg in a cast needs to explain his situation to the airline attendant in order to get his seat squared away. The fact is, he may be turned down for the flight because of it. Either example is life on the fringe. The further one goes, the harder it gets. It sucks but we are not all equals and society can't afford to roll out the red carpet for every little difference. That's life. A transgendered 'woman' is a man who had his penis and gonads removed in order to live out some kind of sexual fetish. He's still a man.. just has issues. There is no reason why society should be forced to pay for and play in his fantasy. If he wants to be a 'she' then he should check off 'she' and be done with it. Eventually, though, 'she' will end up holding up whatever process 'she's involved in because 'she' is really a he and other women won't accept 'her' in their space, or 'she'll end up with the wrong kind of medical care.

A good reason why gender needs to be in DB (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44018115)

If it is an Identity database, then gender matters. If it is a medical database, it matters. If its a customer database, it does not matter

Re:A good reason why gender needs to be in DB (1)

Kjella (173770) | about 10 months ago | (#44018407)

If it is an Identity database, then gender matters. If it is a medical database, it matters. If its a customer database, it does not matter

If you're doing any selective marketing or sales campaigns or you show them any form of targeted advertising or you're selling customer lists then it does matter or at least it has value. Statistically speaking males and females of same age have vastly different interests, so they're not going to stop collecting that information.

christ i should know better (1)

ebubna (765457) | about 10 months ago | (#44018249)

than to read the comments. what a bunch of assholes. cool job /.

Re:christ i should know better (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44018375)

The level of ignorance is astounding for a site of supposedly intelligent people.

They deserve it (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44018257)

I have no problem with races, sex, political or religion bias, homosexual and many other stuff, but transgenders? Those guys have a serious mental health issues to begin with. I have no moral trouble laughing at their stupid decision.

I hate computer programmers. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44018259)

Computer software "engineers" strike again. "OMG, people can't change gender, so obviously we should filter out these erroneous attempts to change it."

Reminds me of the "only letters and numbers should be in addresses" PITA that gets me every time I try to order something online. Apparently most computer programmers have never heard of a "1/2" address. At least a few weeks ago, walmart.com wasn't accepting 1/2 addresses. The social security administration's web site wasn't accepting "1/2" in address changes a few years ago. So I went into the office to change it, and told them about how I couldn't do it online, and they told me that a few weeks earlier they weren't even able to update such addresses on their computers in the office. For years, ordering from one particular web site caused my packages to "419 1/2" to arrive with two labels on the box, one which read "419 12" and the other which read "41912." It's a miracle the damn things ever came to my house.

If only computer programmers could get it through their fucking skulls that they don't need to filter every field for invalid characters. ...but then, I guess they probably do. They're probably writing shitty SQL code that needs to escape any special characters and so they figure it's easier to just filter it out anything they don't believe people should be typing anyway than to use methods that don't require data to be escaped.

what is the legal gender of a transgender? (1)

detain (687995) | about 10 months ago | (#44018269)

for legal purposes, if someone starts off one gender are they always legally considered that gender or does gender altering surgeries change your legal gender.

Re:what is the legal gender of a transgender? (1)

detain (687995) | about 10 months ago | (#44018279)

if legally males stay male, and females stay female, then this article is worthless. If you work with government agencies you would have to give your legal gender anyways, not the gender you think you are or have been surgically altered to be.

Re:what is the legal gender of a transgender? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44018311)

Depends on the jurisdiction. Trans* rights are pretty poor almost everywhere, but in many jurisdictions it is possible to change your legal gender, although it is often overly difficult and may have absurd requirements.

Of *course* they're hassled (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44018285)

Chopping off your privates does not change 'X' & 'Y' chromosomes. They're *not* transgendered.

What about multiple personalities? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44018353)

Are we going to cater to everyone with mental illness this way?

Bigotry (5, Insightful)

jbohumil (517473) | about 10 months ago | (#44018367)

I'm surprised at all the bigotry here on Slashdot. I hope you guys get a chance to know a transgendered person at some point, it might change your attitudes. I have, and it totally changed my misunderstandings on the subject. I suppose it is natural to be unbelieving in things which seem foreign to our way of thinking, but even if you cannot accept the idea right now, at least give people the benefit of the doubt rather than spew your ignorance as if it were facts. Why not have a look and see attitude? You might be surprised. I feel lucky to have met the transgendered persons I have known in my life, I hope you get the chance.
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