Have you ever experienced that feeling where you can't stop noticing something once it's been pointed out to you? Since reading Bad Science I can't help but really notice the wonky 'science' in cosmetic adverts, since learning the concept of heteronormativity I take mental note of how many adverts have a straight romantic couple for no reason.
For some time now, I've been looking at moving to using gender-neutral titles. I need a new passport and decided that I would apply under the title Mx. The help text on the form says that if you want something other than Ms, Mrs, Mr then you need proof. I guess Drs need to send a copy of their doctorate and so on. I know that the passport service allow gender-neutral titles but as this is clearly a 'other' I didn't know what kind of proof they might want, so I emailed them using the online support form. The form requires a title, and because it was on my mind I just thought 'why?'. So now I see titles in forms everywhere and get frustrated by their presence.
When I move my passport and bank information to the Mx title, 99% (possible hyperbole) of web forms won't fit me anymore. Very few places that require a title supply Mx as a choice or avoid the issue by either making the title optional or a text field. Why do you even need the title? Post will find its way to my house as long as the address is right, the name doesn't matter that much. If you have my first name and surname you can address me as such easily in an email. The only reasons I can see to ask for a title are a) It's tradition and you didn't think about it or b) You want to know my gender and/or marital status without asking for it directly. Developers, next time you're putting a form together, think about whether each field is really needed and what for, don't just plonk stuff down for the sake of tradition.
A small note on gender markers on forms: Again think about why you really need it. I will always pick outside the binary when given the chance, either by leaving it blank or picking whatever word you have offered ('Other', 'Chose not to disclose' etc). The recent news that Facebook is offering a greater range of gender choices is welcome, if not a little confusing. For example. 'cis female' and 'cisgender female' are two separate options. One thing I liked about Disapora was its gender text field, perhaps Facebook chose not to implement this so that people wouldn't put something stupid or made it harder for advertisers to target users. I wonder if people who select 'transgender woman' for instance might start seeing more adverts for laser hair removal. Personally, I haven't decided what marker I am going to use yet, but I am glad for the choice.