Dear Everyone Who Incorrectly Lists "Gender" As a Question On Forms

* Now with handy educational links at the bottom!  

This is a picture of me judging you, but very politely.

This is a picture of me judging you, but very politely.

Dear everyone who incorrectly lists "gender" as a question on forms:

If the choices you give me to answer the gender question on your form are limited to "man/woman" or "male/female", you are not asking me about my gender, because "gender" and "sex" are not interchangeable terms. What you are actually asking me about is my sex. I know that politely inquiring about what kind of genitals I have in my pants is still considered acceptable in many circles, but it is actually not polite at all. In fact, it is usually not germane to the situation and can feel pretty bad-touchy. Please don't do that.

If you take a moment to consider whether you really need to know if I have a vagina, you'll probably figure out that you don't, unless your form specifically pertains to things like reproductive health or maintaining male/female balance in the workforce.

For instance, a ton of people with vaginas don't want to buy computer equipment, and a ton of people with penises don't want to buy computer equipment, BUT there are a ton of people together from the whole rainbow of genital configuration (because genitals are pretty varied, yo) who do want to buy computer equipment, so asking a question about their genital structure on your form when they sign up to buy computer equipment is honestly kind of bizarre. Penises and vaginas are not the best indicators of either interests or purchasing power.

Truly inquiring about gender, though, which is non-binary and likely at least partially a cultural construct, will be much more informative for you, especially from a capitalist or political perspective if you are interested in selling me things or communicating important information. Knowing my genital structure won't really help you clarify my interests, but knowing my social/cultural location might.


Elan, whose specific genital structure is none of your beeswax.

PS. Here are a few helpful links that explain the differences between sex, gender, and sexual orientation:

Grace in Small Things No. 539

  1. Aidan and I ate at a new restaurant in Regina, 20Ten City Eatery, and I had the best short ribs of my life.
  2. The insanely hot weather finally broke, and my apartment is once again liveable.
  3. A few kind friends checked in on me after a potentially triggering situation they heard about, and it got me through a difficult day.
  4. I am grateful for my online community, which has largely stepped up to amplify information related to the protests going on in Ferguson, Missouri and share their own important stories about race and politics. They make the world a little better.
  5. Skype! What a wonder of the 21st century.

Wage a battle against embitterment and take part in Grace in Small Things.

How To Tie a Wind- and Child-Resistant Scarf Knot In 5 Easy Steps

In Saskatchewan, the weather sometimes changes every five minutes, so I have a habit of carrying a scarf with me, even in the warmer months. Despite spending nearly four decades in this blessed area of the world, though, I never learned how to tie a scarf properly until I was in my late 30s.


I am often fashion challenged in this way. For instance, I once wore a rope for a belt for several months. It’s true. Luckily, I have been graced with a metrosexual husband who is wise in the way of belts and scarves and such.

Aidan generously schooled me in a fancy-looking but simple scarf-tying method that is good for a number of reasons:

  • it looks good whether it is tied up close to the neck or left to hang a little lower,
  • it never comes undone in the wind,
  • pulling on one end does not pull the knot tighter, so a good yank won't cause it to choke you,
  • the knot works well with both thinner and thicker scarves, and
  • although it looks more complex, it’s easy to tie after only a couple of trial runs.

How could I not pass this knowledge on to you?

1. Start, of course, with a scarf.

This knot should work well whether your scarf is thick or thin.

2. Make a loose circle in the middle of the scarf.

scarf tying 1.jpg

3. Cross the right side over the top of the circle.

scarf tying 2.jpg

4. Cross the left side over the top as you did with the right side.

5. Pull the top scarf layer through the space between the second layer and the original bottom scarf circle.

And, voilà! You have tied a wind- and child-resistant scarf knot!

So, now that you are armed with a spectacular scarf-tying method that makes you look like you know what you're doing, go out and be more fabulous! I know I have been.

The above entry's original version was published at Aiming Low in July 2011.