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When the user signs up in our app, we would like to ask get the gender of the user. For the purpose of the app, it's not important that we have the 'real' gender of the user, but we would like to still classify them.

We're thinking of using a visual selection like icons and images instead of text. It's simple for male and female, but for other, it becomes tricky. Showing a half male and half female icon might not be appropriate.

enter image description here.

And showing for example, a robot might be offensive. Do you have any ideas on what visual (image) can safely be used for "other"? Also, it doesn't have to be just one "other", there can be multiple "other".

For example, we can have 5 selections: male, female, robot, animal, tree. But our goal is to not offend, while staying fun.

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    "it's not important that we have the 'real' gender of the user, but we would like to still classify them." why are you using gender to classify them? – Alvaro Feb 10 '17 at 16:27
  • @Alvaro Gender is not always important, but in case of social apps people like to have it. – Summer Feb 10 '17 at 16:30
  • What I mean is, why use gender for this classification? You could use other methods to classify (which include 5 selections as you say), and still give the user the option to enter gender. – Alvaro Feb 10 '17 at 16:32
  • @Alvaro, like JaneDoe said, it's not mandatory for the function of our app, but in case of social apps (which we are), we do have some cool use for gender if we know it. However, we are open to the option of not including "male" or "female", if that's the better alternative. – Van Du Tran Feb 10 '17 at 16:42
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There are a lot of variations on the standard male/female icons. You could show a list of all/some of them, and sort them in to male|female|other for simplicity or sort them in all categories for precision.

Gender variations example

In fact, a bunch of these are already covered by Unicode; ⚢ ⚣ ⚤ ⚥ ⚦ ⚧ ⚨ ⚩

You could also look at the celestial origins; Mars & Venus, and add a third option, Earth: . It'd fit in several ways; the symbol looks a fair bit like the other two in that it's a circle with some straight lines, and we're all humans born on earth.

You could even expand on the similar looking icons in a more silly fashion like Jane Doe mentioned, and include things like peace, Ⓐ anarchy, smileyface and so on...

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For the purpose of the app, it's not important that we have the 'real' gender of the user, but we would like to still classify them.

You already know you don't need this, then you're looking for ways to get into a very troublesome and sensible subject for some of your users. Quite honestly, I'd suggest you pay attention to your own instinct and get away from problems.

But if you're going to get there anyways, then at least abandon the iconography idea and try using text. And when I say text, get a list of all posible gender identifications you can find, add them to a dropdown and make sure not to forget anything. Also, be wary of symbolism, many people that identifies with some gender won't know those arcane symbols

As for going "creative", think about this: you ask the gender question, and you offer this options:

  • male
  • female
  • unicorn

I think any person whose identification is not female or male will feel insulted. I mean: why didn't you leave out male? It's a very simple question (and one you won't have a valid answer for THAT person).

Anyways, if you're still going for it, try male, female, other, prefer not to say. Other is commonly seen and way less insulting than whatever fun option. Or if you want to go the fun way, be fair and leave out ALL genders so nobody complains

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You need to be very careful with this. Fun for one may seem offended for another, and it's actually usually so indeed. The "How?" to visualize "others" may come in variety of possible choices, it's all depend on the context(app., for example), but you can start with some general symbols, as question mark for example. You can combine the man/woman silhouette with "M"/"W" (or gender symbols) and then use man silhouette with "?" to define different group than "M" or "W" groups.

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I would suggest including not just one 'other' option, but a few. This gets the focus off the gender issue, while still supplying the option for those who would like to identify as strictly male or female.

Go nuts with the 'other' option and make them fun, light, and match them to your target group.

For example, include a;

  • Unicorn
  • Slice of pizza
  • Cat
  • Genderless smiley face

And I'm not one familiar with copyright issues but I immediately thought of a 'Meeseeks' from Rick & Morty.

  • Just curious, why with the Meeseeks? – Alvaro Feb 10 '17 at 16:30
  • @Alvaro the meeseeks are fictional and their population only has males, which makes gender unimportant. They are fun and 'here to help'. – Summer Feb 10 '17 at 16:33
  • @JaneDoe1337, very interesting suggestion. I will explore this further. Thanks! – Van Du Tran Feb 10 '17 at 16:44
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Instead of asking for a gender option, you could just ask users to select an image like you showed in your question. You can certainly still code those answers to male/female/robot/tree for your classifications.

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