We’ve all filled out those fields on forms - First name, Last name, Address, Gender - without thinking about the information.
Imagine what it is like not to be able to put the right information down. It’s like you’re a Cat, and the options are Dog and Penguin - there is not only no option to identify as yourself, the two options you’re given don’t reflect you at all.
Gender is a social construct (see The Other Sociologist for a good basic explanation), that we are socialized in from birth (or before) and exists separate to our biology. If you still identify as the gender you were assigned at birth, you are Cis-gendered. The opposite is Trans- where you no longer identify with the gender you were assigned at birth.
Some people remain in the gender binary (man or woman) without ever having to think about it, other people decide to change their gender, either across the gender binary, or reject the gender binary all together.
When someone makes the small change to include you and your gender, that is a big thing for the gender non-binary customer. The appearance (or not) of a gender option can completely change their engagement with a brand. How many times have you signed up for the coolest hip start-up, and been asked your gender? How many of those gave an option beyond the binary? Imagine what you could do with a cohort of customers who are enthusiastic about your brand, active on social media, and engaged with brands.
These changes that need to be made to be truly inclusive are quite small, but they have a big impact. The percentage of the population which identifies outside of the Gender Binary is growing, some 36% of people under 25’s know someone who identifies as non-binary [see Generation Z report from J. Walter Thompson Intelligence]. This group may be small in number, but if you are on the leading edge and show that you cater to them, they become engaged with your brand.
Gender is a social construct. Based on looking at genitalia at birth (or before) we assign characteristics, purchase toys and clothes, and define acceptable behaviour to a person.
Disclaimer: The statements and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the positions of Thoughtworks.