07 August, 2010

Warning: contains no Daily Mail.

This irritates the hell out of me. I'm arranging a mail redelivery, so that if I have forgotten to tell anywhere that sends me bills, the bills go to the new house. It's handy.

But the Royal Mail website asks me to not only provide a title (thankfully it now includes "Ms" as a choice) as well as my full name - but it asks for my gender. Why on earth, especially considering that there is a first name and a title, does it require me to state whether I am male or female. Why is there no other choice? Does the Royal Mail really need to know the contents of my pants in order to redirect a letter?


  1. The seemingly-now-universal "are you male or female" question is very shitty and erasing for those that don't feel comfortble identifying within the gender binary.

    On the one hand, that any system doesn't assume a gender identity based on your (legal) name is ostensibly of a good thing for trans people who don't want to be misgendered, and for cis people that don't want to be misgendered because you have a name that someone can't readily place neatly into 'male' or 'female'.

    But really, there's no need for most systems to have to assume an individual's gender identity, or to require one in the first place. The fact that the Royal Mail and other websites force you to disclose your gender identity in such rigid terms is just silly, frustrating and oppressive.

    P.S. Current thinking is that gender isn't necessarily related to the contents of your pants; not wanting to diminish your original posting.

  2. Because they're worried about transvestites. Naturally.

    Then again, Royal Mail and Daily Mail both = Fail?

  3. Malefact - I'm aware of the current thinking. However, in these cases, the simplification for non-theorists is that gender= contents of pants, just as there is a gender binary of male vs female. The context of the question and who it's aimed at (person on the street not guaranteed to go "ah, do you mean societal construction or biological sex?" when asked to state their gender) needs to be taken into account.

    Road Warrior - generally, I like the Royal Mail. It brings me post, as opposed to the DM, which brings me a case of bile.

  4. Yes, you're right - there's no need for the RM to know your gender. I can't remember any other organisation doing this. Come to think of it, I can't remember the RM asking this either when I set up my mail forwarding service in Feb this year (and renewed it as well because my dear partner hadn't got around to telling his regular correspondents the new address).

    I do remember PC World offering a compulsory choice of Mr, Mrs or Miss when ordering a computer online. I initially put Mr but changed it to Mrs because I'm an adult female (albeit unmarried but that's none of their business) and adult males migrate from Master to Mr when they reach majority. However when the computer arrive it was addressed to Mr Jane Bloggs. I did complain about it and was told that banks need this info for security. Even when you bank knows you as Ms, or perhaps by your name with no title, Quaker-style (Quakers of course dispense with all titles).

    Even more shockingly, the online subscription service for New Internationalist asked for a compulsory choice of Mr, Mrs or Miss. So I complained and I've just noticed they've changed it. Result! (PC World haven't though)


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