foone Profile picture
13 Sep, 64 tweets, 9 min read
Wake up to a survey that asks my gender, giving these options:
1. Male
2. Female
3. Non-binary
4. Transgender
5. Cisgender
this would almost make sense if it was multiple choice or better yet two questions, but it's not.
and to give the quick explanation if you don't know why this is completely wrong:
"cisgender" and "transgender" are not, themselves, genders. They're descriptors ABOUT your gender and how it relates to how you were assigned at birth.
"cisgender" means that your gender, whatever it is (male/female/other) is the same as the one you were born with. You know when the doctor holds you up and goes "It's a boy/girl/baby"? "Cisgender" just means they were right / you still agree with them.
if you don't agree with that, and you are a different gender than they said, you're transgender. That is all it means.
They're latin prefixes meaning "on this side" and "across".
Think of it like a street. If you were born on one side and stayed on that side, you're cis. if you crossed over, you're trans.
if you're running about in the middle nearly getting hit by a car or you've left the street entirely and now live in the woods with an owl named Mr. Peters, you're non-binary.
But still trans, technically.
that one is:
1. a joke
2. complicated because the use of the word "trans" to refer to non-binary people is often confusing. It's technically correct nearly always, as most people aren't assigned non-binary at birth so by definition they're trans if they are non-binary.
but a lot of people have an association of "trans" with meaning "binary trans"
(ie, you were assigned female and now identify as male, or vice versa)
so sometimes non-binary people don't call themselves "trans" because it may be confusing.
anyway, that's not the point.
The point is, when you're making a survey about gender, you need to separate these two things into separate questions:
1. what is your gender?
2. are you trans?
assuming you actually need to know both of those things, and I would very much caution against assuming you do.
unless you definitely need to know those things (like, you're trying to determine health care needs or evaluate representation at your organization), you probably can get by without asking.
but please don't fall into the trap of trying to be clever and combine them into one, bad, survey:
1. Male
2. Female
3. Trans Male
4. Trans Female
5. Non-Binary/Other/Prefer Not To Say
this is bad because it's splitting your males and females into two groups, and implying that Trans Male/Trans Female is a different thing than "plain" Male/Female.
it's better than this design:

1. Male
2. Female
3. Transgender
but not by a whole lot.
"Transgender" is not a gender. It's a way-to-have-a-gender, basically, just like "Cisgender" is.
Basically this should make sense if you think about grammar:

Male/Female/Non-Binary are nouns.
Transgender/Cisgender are adjectives.
You can be a Male, a Female, a Non-Binary.
You can't be a Cisgender, a Transgender.

To make grammatical sense, you'd say "you're a Cisgender Woman" or "You're a Transgender Man"
(yes I know Male/Female/Non-Binary are also adjectives, so this isn't as clear as it should be)
this, by the way, is why you should write "trans woman / trans man" and not "transwoman / transman".
It's not "transwoman" / "transman" as some special new noun of a 3rd or 4th gender. It's a woman or man who has the adjective "trans"
it works like you might say "that tall man" or "that asian woman". It's an adjective describing some relevant facet of them.

It's not like you're saying tallmen are a mysterious 3rd gender to the shortmen and women of all heights.
btw this survey started out with a question, prior to the disasterous gender one, that was like "What are your pronouns? if you don't know what pronouns are, click here!" which lead to some helpful site about pronouns, I'm sure.
but I kinda want to imagine it lead to an "enroll in second grade english class!" site for a local school
anyway if you want to see more examples of Bad Gender Forms, there's a whole twitter account for that over at @GenderRate
meanwhile I gotta write some emails to the people who made this form, and sadly it'd be slightly unprofessional to just send an email like:
subject: re: your survey
your form is bad. go read my twitter to see why
because by the time they read it, this thread is likely to be 20,000 posts back, and they're not getting paid to read everything I write
anyway my gender, if they have to ask, is "analog".
You might say "isn't that just non-binary?", but I prefer the term "analog", because it implies my gender has a warmer sound.
anyway I got back to filling this out and sending an email to the form designer and I just noticed they do in fact let you put in a gender: other and there's a text box.

and they didn't put in a max-length
my gender is about to be the entire shareware floppy disk of Doom 1.8, base64 encoded
sometimes people ask me why I'm so obsessed with gender, and I'd like to argue that no, I'm not. I'm really not.

Nearly everyone else is.
and if everyone else is going to pretend this is so fucking important and demand that I care about it, then I'm gonna. but I'm not gonna take it seriously, and you can't make me.
anyway my chrome tab with the Big Survey is still frozen.
I suspect Google Forms has O(n²) performance as text boxes get longer
hopefully Doom is still loading
I should make a twitter bot that posts some of Doom every day.
that's the first 3 lines.
if I post 3 lines a day, I'll have the whole thing posted by late 2059
I think the maximum amount of data you can stuff into a twitter post is something like... 3.2mb?
by using images. that's 900x900 pixels at 256 colors each, times 4.
that's enough for a Full Doom (shareware)
my gender form is still hung.
or possibly hanged. english is hard.
OK here's a test. This is the 2.4mb of the Doom Shareware 1.8 zip converted to 3 900x900 8-bit PNGs. Let's see if twitter corrupts them
ok so twitter does re-encode them somehow, so the PNGs don't match, but the pixels DO. So you can, in fact, extract Doom from these images.
I have not yet written an extractor for it.
the format is very simple: it's a header of "bin2png\0" and then a little-endian 4-byte integer of the length, then each image is an 8-bit greyscale/colormap PNG, 900x900, with the extra pixels at the end padded with 0 (black)
I should include a chunk-header on each one, so you don't have to carefully save them in the right order
Chrome is still frozen. I can't submit my Doom-Gender yet
my tab key just apparently broke.
this is problematic as I am a python programmer
ok so, new format:
each image is 900x900, 8-bit greyscale (or equivalent colormap), and the first 16 bytes are:
<4 byte int length, little endian>
<4 byte int chunk number, little endian>
so assuming my code for that worked, here's the same thing (Doom 1.8 shareware zip), encoded using the second format. Deliberately out of order, because it shouldn't matter now.
now I just gotta write a decoder.
I probably should have included the filename in the header. damn it.
so it seems that Twitter re-encodes greyscale images as paletted images, assigning colors as it goes through the pixels.
So you end up with a PNG that has raw data in a format that makes little sense, as the top-left pixel is ALWAYS 0
fortunately converting it back to greyscale is lossless
ok my decoder has round-tripped Doom now, just not through twitter. Getting closer.
yeah I think I maybe posted the wrong images to twitter? those are format 0, not format 1.
whoops. Either that or twitter applied some kind of transformation on them and scrambled the colors a little
Lemme try one more time.
that worked. I round-tripped through twitter. That version is identical to the source file!
and it works. I'm Dooming, off twitter.
chrome tab: still frozen
I stuck the code on github if anyone wants to play with it.
It's python3 and just needs Pillow.
probably don't go crazy with it, or twitter might ban you and also me
this goes for "if I get banned" too:
anyway I'm going on hormones soon. E? T? Nah, IDKFA
my pronouns are rip/tear.
what's in my pants? a BFG.

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