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NavPopups should not use ♂♀ icons to describe how one wants to be addressed
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Description

P.S:

Current behavior
Languages that do NOT vary user namespace title by gender

The information is available through the API. I don’t think MediaWiki itself displays it anywhere, but e.g. Navigation-Popups-Gadget shows a ♂ or ♀ icon when one hovers over a user page/user talk/user subpage/whatever link of someone who has set their gender (i.e. it’s not neutral/unknown).

Unfortunately, that image connection assumes (a) a binary gender, and (b) a person's binary gender out of their language preferences.

One of the reasons the 'gender' data (still 'gender' in DB and api) was changed to "how do you want to be referred" (language-oriented) rather than "what is your gender" is because someone's gender does not equal how they want to be referred to, and we should not make that automatic assumption in graphic or linguistic terms. I am not sure what that product is, but I'd love to see those icons removed, but since it's a gadget, at the very least, I'd like to make sure we don't follow that example, for better inclusion.

Event Timeline

If people chose a gender term in their preferences, that should be observed. Showing a symbol in popups is the most concise way of doing that.

In T284783#7150655, @mb wrote:

If people chose a gender term in their preferences, that should be observed. Showing a symbol in popups is the most concise way of doing that.

They're not choosing a gender, though. The question "How do you prefer to be described?" is about language, not gender.

You lost me. Users chose the term (language) how they want to be addressed. Popups reflects that choice by displaying a symbol, a sign. If users chose neither female nor male, no sign is displayed. Are you unhappy with the sign? Which one do you prefer? What purpose would be advanced by displaying no sign?

I agree with @mb that this bit of information should be kept. I don’t care in what form it’s presented (this is why I was happy to open this ticket), the only thing is that I should be able to determine whether I address the person in question as he, she or they in English; whether I can use er (“he”) or sie (“she”) in German, or I have to find another solution as there’s no such established neutral form as the English singular they, and so on. It gives real value, and people provide it (if they provide it) for a reason. If you don’t want other users to know your preferred pronoun, don’t provide it. (This is not the only way regular users may get to know others’ preferred pronouns: for example, in Spanish, on my user page, there’s a link labelled Contribuciones del usuario; on your user page, it says Contribuciones de la usuaria. The preferences page makes it clear that this information is public.)

In T284783#7151156, @mb wrote:

You lost me. Users chose the term (language) how they want to be addressed. Popups reflects that choice by displaying a symbol, a sign. If users chose neither female nor male, no sign is displayed. Are you unhappy with the sign? Which one do you prefer? What purpose would be advanced by displaying no sign?

The way you want to be addressed -- in gendered languages especially -- does not always correlate to your given gender, and definitely does not correlate to binary sex, the way those symbols are displayed.

Look. This excludes non-binary people, people who may not conform with the binary language choices, and others. The internet in general is getting adjusted to this understanding.

How I choose to be referred to ("ma'am", "sir" or whatever else) has nothing to do with my actual gender or my sex. We should respect that.

If you insist to present what the user actually chose, then be accurate: "This user prefers the 'he/her' pronouns", which is what the user *actually chose* in the preferences. The user did not choose a gender, and for many user, these two are not directly related.

I think we can find a way to respect users' choices while still retaining information on how to address someone.

Pronouns sounds fine (that is, display either "he/him", "she/her", or "they/them"; no setting results in no displayed text). Any objections?

They'll have to be localized. That won't cause difficulties for any languages, right?

Just how those icons that are currently displayed are objectionable has not been explained. Users make an active choice in their preferences which are by default set to gender-neutral which results in no display. That's how it should stay.

that is, display either "he/him", "she/her", or "they/them"; no setting results in no displayed text

As far as I know, there’s no technical difference between setting it to “they/them” and not setting it, so we can’t determine whether the user intentionally set “they/them” or just didn’t bother/didn’t want to change this preference. Let’s just continue not displaying anything for “they/them”. Otherwise looks good to me, although I’m not the one with the strongest opinion here.

That won't cause difficulties for any languages, right?

Except for languages like Hungarian that don’t have grammatical genders, gender-specific pronouns or anything like this. I have no idea how to translate it into Hungarian, but it doesn’t really matter either in Hungarian, so I think we can just leave it untranslated. Let’s focus on languages that need it.

In T284783#7152864, @mb wrote:

Just how those icons that are currently displayed are objectionable has not been explained.

I think it has been:

[…] because someone's gender does not equal how they want to be referred to […]

How I choose to be referred to ("ma'am", "sir" or whatever else) has nothing to do with my actual gender or my sex. We should respect that.

[…] because someone's gender does not equal how they want to be referred to […]

The choice of how people want to be referred to in messages is limited to three: 1) neutral ("they/their" – the default); 2) feminine ("she/her"); 3) masculine ("he/his"). The person's actual sex or current gender is of no concern. Based on the user's choice, or the default, Popups displays nothing or a symbol. What other options should there be in "Preferences"? (which is off-topic here)

In T284783#7153596, @mb wrote:

[…] because someone's gender does not equal how they want to be referred to […]

The choice of how people want to be referred to in messages is limited to three: 1) neutral ("they/their" – the default); 2) feminine ("she/her"); 3) masculine ("he/his"). The person's actual sex or current gender is of no concern. Based on the user's choice, or the default, Popups displays nothing or a symbol. What other options should there be in "Preferences"? (which is off-topic here)

"How do you want to be referred to" does not ask about 'masculine' and 'feminine' options, it literally asks about pronouns: "He/him" / "She/her" / "They/them". That's it.
It does not say anything about gender. This means that a man can choose to be referred to with "she/her" pronouns, and a woman with "he/him" and a non-binary person with however combination they please.

That's because the concepts of gender, sex, and pronouns are distinct from one another. That's entirely the reason why the preference in question was changed from asking about gender (male/female/none) to language pronouns.

If we are to be inclusive, these distinctions matter. We are not the only ones having this discussion, either. For the past 5-10 years, most software and online entities have switched away from sex and gender questions and into pronoun questions purely for how to be referred to. That's not just a random idea i am proposing -- it's the common modern behavior online today.

So, the problem is that the icons -- "female" and "male" symbols -- represent sex, in a binary way, they do not represent pronouns or language choice. It infers this correlation; it is making a statement about whether it should be correlated, and while we can argue whether that belief/opinion is correct or not (science strongly opposes that, but that's an aside) the point is that what we ask our users isn't about their sex or gender -- it's about pronouns.

Asking a user "what are your pronouns" and then go around and display them as if it's the user's gender or sex is misleading for the viewer and non inclusive for the user, who did not choose a gender choice, they chose a language choice.

Removing the icons and swapping them with pronoun choices sounds good to me -- that correlates 100% to the preference question that the user answered.

All languages should have some representation of this by the preference question itself, so we can look at the translations of that string. The language key (yourgender / gender-notknown / gender-female / gender-female) is still named 'gender', unfortunately, because historical usage (the database column is also named gender) but the choice to swap the language question from "what is your gender" to "How do you prefer to be described?" was intentional, meant to move away from this historical view of binary gender conformation and sex.

We should follow that intentional move everywhere else as much as we can.

So, the problem is that the icons -- "female" and "male" symbols -- represent sex, in a binary way, they do not represent pronouns or language choice.

That's your opinion. I submit that those icons in Wikipedia do represent exactly what choice the user made in "Preferences": "How do you prefer to be described?" – "they/their", :she/her", "he/his".

BTW, I suggest phabricator is the wrong venue for this discussion. Maybe https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/MediaWiki_talk:Gadget-popups.js and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia_talk:Tools/Navigation_popups are better suited to give a wider audience the chance to participate.

In T284783#7153630, @mb wrote:

So, the problem is that the icons -- "female" and "male" symbols -- represent sex, in a binary way, they do not represent pronouns or language choice.

That's your opinion. I submit that those icons in Wikipedia do represent exactly what choice the user made in "Preferences": "How do you prefer to be described?" – "they/their", :she/her", "he/his".

That's literally the definition of those icons: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gender_symbol

They represent binary gender, not language pronouns.

There are quite a number of resources online that make the distinction about gender and pronouns, and why they're crucial for inclusion of non binary, trans people, women, and generally people who do not associate language with their gender.

In any case, my original point (the one quoted in the first post) stands: whether this is changed or not in this specific gadget, it definitely isn't something future (and current) products should follow, emulate, or repeat.

@Mooeypoo: "The icons represent sex." and then points to the Wikipedia "Gender symbol". Clearly, "Preferences" asks for gender pronouns, and the symbols represent gender. Are you suggesting there are people who identify as male-gendered but prefer female pronouns, and vice versa?

Gender, sex, and language pronouns are three distinct notions. The article discusses some application of this, but the first sentence can't be clearer:

A gender symbol is a pictogram or glyph used to represent biological sex and gender in biology or medicine"

The icons represent gender and sex.
The preference text we are discussing in this ticket represents language pronouns.

In T284783#7154101, @mb wrote:

Clearly, "Preferences" asks for gender pronouns, and the symbols represent gender. Are you suggesting there are people who identify as male-gendered but prefer female pronouns, and vice versa?

I'm not suggesting, I'm saying they exist, I'm saying people who are non-binary gender exist, I'm saying gender is more complex than a binary representation that is used to also represent sex, even if you don't know them.
That's what "inclusion" is about, including people you don't identify with, but want to be respectful of, and in this specific case, honestly, the "damage" to your own benefit and comfort is miniscule, so I really am starting to wonder what, exactly, you are resisting.

If you don't care about the symbols, but there are people who take offense to what they're symbolizing when used on their own username, then what is the harm in respecting that, and choosing a different method here?

I believe the points are all pretty much raised and explained, and whatever missing pieces can be found with extreme ease with just a google search on the concepts of gender identity and inclusion that the Internet has been discussing for at least 5-10 years, ad exhaustium. Not sure there's anything else to add other than my hopes that whoever maintains this gadget will consider fixing it to comply with modern inclusion ideals.

(I'm one of the maintainers, although that status is highly unofficial.) I'll just go with what Tacsipacsi said; "he/him", "she/her", or nothing. Done in https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=MediaWiki:Gadget-popups.js&diff=prev&oldid=1028542485.

By the way, the widely-used script https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:PleaseStand/userinfo.js and the whole set of related scripts (I don't know how many off the top of my head) use the same symbols in the same way. Worth taking a look at those too.

APerson claimed this task.

(I'm one of the maintainers, although that status is highly unofficial.) I'll just go with what Tacsipacsi said; "he/him", "she/her", or nothing. Done in https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=MediaWiki:Gadget-popups.js&direction=prev&oldid=1028542485.

That's great, thank you!

By the way, the widely-used script https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:PleaseStand/userinfo.js and the whole set of related scripts (I don't know how many, off the top of my head) use the same symbols in the same way. Worth taking a look at those too.

Yes, there's a bunch of historic things that should/could be fixed with our more modern sensibilities. I don't quite have the time, energy or ability to follow up on all of them, but I am hopeful that with time and as cultural norms change, these things will be spotted and changed too. In two (private) wikis that i'm on that use the "userinfo" script, the sex/gender symbols were removed -- so it seems some places are taking note of that more and more. There are also a bit more of a bigger scope question here about information requested for private experience (preferences) that's then being shared publicly that is one I think we as a movement should look into, but, again, it's way beyond the scope of this ticket...

That said, Wikipedia's been around for 20 years -- it's not surprising that as we go on, we adjust ourselves to changes in cultural norms and expectations, and I suspect this will continue happening as we stay online, and stay relevant for years and years (and decades!) to come for and with so many cultures :)