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Thank you to +Frances Haugen and the Google+ team for responding to the gender-profile issue so quickly! Caring about getting these small but personal things right means a lot, and makes me optimistic about the future of this place.
Frances Haugen originally shared:
Great news! I'm proud to announce Google+ Profiles is launching a new privacy enhancement in response to user feedback. Starting later this week, you will be able to set the privacy setting of your gender on your Google+ Profile just as you control other information about yourself. :-)
azh hikari's profile photoJeremiah Frye's profile photoMary Margaret Healy's profile photoJain Waldrip's profile photo
I agree completely - it's great that they listen.
When YOU posted about it, I figured that might make enough noise that they'd listen.
google doesn't fail to listen to feedback.
I cannot "like" this enough. I was really surprised that Google+ required a public gender. I'm glad you commented and I'm glad they responded so fast.
Nice job.. I'm sure your post had a lot to do with this change being made so quickly!
Thanks, Randall. We're committed to privacy and turning up the awesome to 11.
Already, the more I use g+, the more I grin like an idiot. And then I see stuff like this. Damn google. You awesome.
Sarah F
Thanks for advancing the cause!
This is wonderful! Thanks to everyone who put in feedback about it.
I don't much wonder what gender Laura, María, Roberta and Carla could be...

Laura might be genderqueer and not identify solely with the generally-accepted definition of female, might prefer "they" as their pronoun, etc. etc.

Complicated stuff. I hope G+ considers gender-as-a-text-field next.
+Adriano Varoli Piazza A lot of people also have gender neutral names, or use initials as names. Also, there is the "other" option that they may have selected and not want to post in public because that could invite discrimination from people or questions from employers if the profile were found. Gender identity is a complex issue.
+Adriano Varoli Piazza yes, you can often discern a person's gender by their name, but by being able to restrict who sees my gender means that I can't be searched by it. So, the creepy predator who does a search by gender, looking for females to follow (and possibly harass), will not see me in that list. Yes, I am speaking stereotypically, here. Yes, I'm aware that most people do not behave like that.
And thank you Randall writing such a thoughtful and compelling piece to help everyone understand the importance of this issue.
I am so happy that the people whose art I like also find important the issues that I find important. So happy!
+Kelly Johnston if you are six years old and not a person, you may be banned for an age violation.
+Alon Altman Not if you enter your age in dog years.
Ben Lai
if google did the text field gender, i would change my gender to kittens. that system would not work.
That would dependon what you intend to use it for.
+Jonathan Terleski any thoughts from a designer's standpoint on also making the gender a text field, or transforming into a text field in clicking "other" or "let me specify..." or something? I think it's a good idea, but I'm open to the possibility that there might be some technical or behavioral hurdle to doing it that way.
Great news. I hope this change means our gender is no longer for sale to marketers any more.
I can't stop +1ing these comments... what a rad community this is!

Again, Google, Thanks.
Exactly! The good thing about Google+ is that they give you control over the data you share. The great thing about Google+ is that they listen.
Good for you, Google. I'm also amused that this just happens to be announced by someone with a somewhat unisex name.
Really glad to see they listened to what we were saying.
"Kittens" is legit, as far as I'm concerned. (A friend of mine says there's only two sexual orientations: "with fruit sauce" and "without fruit sauce." I'd need a text field for that.)
Arguably, no reasonable person thinks of kittens in terms of their gender. So I believe the correct answer to queries regarding the gender of kittens is "kittens!"

But I don't think a lot of kittens use google+. Although if someone were to start an account where all posts are written by having kittens walk on a keyboard, then that gender is obviously the only correct choice.
The folks at Google didn't want to see this in an xkcd.
Ben Lai
I dont think Randall would do multiple comics on Google+ so close together unless it was part of an arc thing. I think Google+ is safe for at least a couple more weeks
I did have something intelligent to say, but then I started thinking about kittens...
I reckon that the ideal, totally-uncontroversial solution to this problem is to cut it back to what they need. The only thing that Google actually require from every user is a pronoun (he, she, or they); they're unnecessarily combining that with a gender / sex Profile Info box. The solution, then, is clear: ask which pronoun to use, and then let people type whatever the hell they want into the box marked 'gender' just as they can type whatever they want into 'politics' and 'religion'.

The only possible dissent would be from people who like using 'xir' and the rest (and if you were willing to let people specify not just the root pronoun, but all the other forms as well, then...).
Simon: do you want users to select a pronoun in every language that G+ supports when they create a profile? (and keep this updated as more languages are added)
Prateek: I'd guess that there are plenty of ways to automate translating that correctly.
Prateek: thanks for pointing that out, I hadn't thought of that. However, I agree with Gary - I'm pretty sure Google could set analogues for $male, $female and $neutral in most languages. Languages with only $neutral are fine, and I'd be surprised if languages with formal / informal versions of $male and $female (or other subdivisions, like Thai) can't be pragmatically reduced to three for the purposes of a social network. Brief wiki search suggests that genderspecific pronouns are quite rare anyway, so this isn't even a problem in many languages.
Simon: Exactly my point. The "would you make everyone enter their pronoun in XXX number of languages?" question was silly.
Yay, Google for not being evil!!
Ben Lai
if google were evil, we'd all be forced to write the codes for the evil robotic autonomus slave drivers, and would be beaten/killed/harvested for biofuel if we made an error, or tried to add in unwanted functions
That is very encouraging. I'm glad to see that's how the site is rolling.
Bob Cat
Why don't they avoid personal pronouns as much as possible?

"+Bob Cat has been added to +Randall Munroe's circles"

Make my name red so I know they don't mean another Cat.
Most likely because it doesn't flow that cleanly in English. In other languages it is even more difficult to pull of gender neutrality.

I won't be happy until you can list "furry" as gender.
Er, isn't furry closer to an orientation, not gender?
And fetishes are closer to an orientation, than a gender, aren't they?
Next thing you know they'll insist on having "Yiffing" in the "looking for" section.
What's up with the hate? They're rather odd compared to most people's tastes, but if it works fr them, what's wrong with it?
Well, it's not hate, first of all. It's a joke. Second of all, "cub" stuff comes to mind.
+Krystal Doll Yes and NO. Fetish is closer to orientation because they both involve sexuality, but only inasmuch the earth is related to a basketball in roundness.

Orientation is defined by who you are attracted to; gender is who you are-- the identity of your humanity.

A fetish is not your identity. Ch-ch-check it:

Fetish: onlt
Sexual Orientation, very roughly:

These are not simple concepts to understand or relate, because the mix is fundamentally, deeply, personal to a given person as an instinct (*meant as something felt ) versus a kind of intellectual mechanism.
+Chai Martinez It isn't white knighting. Anti-kink prejudice is huge and disgusting. i'm defending myself.
+Daniel Rice i'm not sure where the no part comes. A fetish is a condition for arousal, and as such is part of your sexual orientation. Restricting sexual orientation to which gender/sex you prefer is just silly, and is just a continuation of the nonsense gender issues we have. It might be useful as a purely archival mechanism, but it's silly to apply that to the real world as if it is anything other than sorting criteria which doesn't take anything else into account.
People, if you care, then you're spending too much time boinking each other.
Gary: I'd expect you'd know more about it than I would. ; )
"And fetishes are closer to an orientation, than a gender, aren't they?" was the question i read and got straight to work answering-- i didn't know you were being rhetorical. After i read your response to me i looked back up, saw your accompanying comments, and realized the bigger context. I see now you that were schooling some people. I do not disagree.

(My comment still relevant though for anyone interested in knowing better, if they need.... So i guess it wuddn't all a bust.)
So, peace,+Krystal Doll. Your name is rad, and i'm sure your hair looks wonderful today.

PS. I might-can be silly about kink.... but i am never silly about the politics of kink. Perceptions iz too screwed up out there.
I don't think G+ is out to compete with OKCupid...


Though isn't one of the main problems social networks are still supposed to solve "getting 20something guys regardless of niche laid"?
I am proud of being the 666th person to +1 this post.
Fair enough, that makes sense +Daniel Rice! I like my name too, and my hair is always wonderful ;)

And yeah, I can be a bit sensitive about kink issues, people can be so hard against anything not normal it is frightening sometimes.
Word,+Krystal Doll.

@Mark Smith-- you didn't get your money. The count, on my end anyway, seems to have stopped at 665.... God apparently intervened. You were robbed!

But we know the sinister truth. Cheers!

Edit: but it switched for me! Perhaps you went the way of Balkan, yikes (be thankful it wasn't by fire.)

Mumbo Jumbo Boris Balkan Ninth Gate

My descent isn't playing out like Dean Corso either, so, drats!
Google has really done an impressive job of paying attention to the thoughts, suggestions, needs, desires, and ideas from their userbase. It's really heartening to see.
How does this work in languages with adjective agreement of gender? For that matter, how does it work in languages with verb agreement of gender???? I'm really glad that Google's striking out both in favor of gender equality and singular they, but they seem to be disenfranchising the entire Arab world in the process.
French too...(Never for get that self-referential statements in passé accord the verb with the subject)
Saying "these small but personal things" in a discussion about gender is a highly smart testicle joke. Kinda sad nobody noticed it.
Given their real-name policy, hiding your gender setting is no big use if your name is Mary or Rosie or any other "typical girl name". (Just yet another argument for why even Google should see how misguided that policy is: If they were serious about letting people actually hide their gender, then they'd have to let all the Marys and Rosies hide their first name.)
But what if a person happens to like being called "Mary" or "Rosie" but doesn't necesarily identify as "female"? These are the issues people don't tend to take into consideration.
+Christian Conrad I'm not completely sure, but i think Google okayed pseudonyms almost a month ago; lot's of people seem to have them. Indigo for example [above], might have been tagged by bots otherwise.
+Indigo C. That's a tough one. I happen to have many friends here who live just that way. They've settled for "other", and are happy G+ers, but they're not thrilled with having to stifle their individuality. I'd love to see it change but Google hasn't budged (as far as i know).
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