Two genderfails from LiveJournal and its environs

First up, the return of fannish scammer formerly known as Victoria Bitter, most recently appearing on LiveJournal as thanfiction. If you’re familiar with the back-story, you’ll know that the person in question has been identifying as male for some years now. Despite this, various people in the fandom_wank thread have been referring to him as “she” or “s/he” or the like. The fandom_wank post now comes with a “No more transfail!” warning.

Brown Betty puts it like this:

It is never okay to disregard a transperson’s preferred gender identity. Not if he’s a compulsive liar, not if he’s a demonstrated con-artist, not if he’s dragging down the name of fandom, not if he’s the worst person on the internet.

Let me recontextualize, with a hypothetical: “It is never okay to slut-shame. Not if she’s a compulsive liar, a demonstrated con-artist, dragging down the good name of fandom…”

Clearer now?

Meanwhile, Livejournal has recently added code which will require (binary) gender disclosure, presumably to better target its advertising. Unlike, say, Facebook, LJ has never nagged you to disclose your gender or fit into the boxes marked “Male” or “Female”. This made it more trans-friendly than many social networking sites.

Denise’s letter to the LJ feedback folks reads, in part:

Transgender and genderqueer individuals experience discrimination every day when they are forced to identify themselves with the gender binary when it doesn’t apply to them. Please do not contribute to this oppression.

Please keep the “Unspecified” option for gender, and add an “Other” option, if you are making the gender field mandatory. Please do not contribute to the oppression of others. While I recognize that having a user’s gender makes advertisers happier, collecting revenue at the expense of human suffering is not the action of a company I want to do business with.

She suggests that LJ users go set their gender to “Unspecified” in protest, before the probable code-push on Thursday, and send a letter to LJ registering your disapproval.

If anyone wants ’em, I’ve got Dreamwidth invites. More on Dreamwidth and trans/genderqueer inclusion.

ETA: The LJ change has been rolled back. Binary gender disclosure will not be required (for now).

7 thoughts on “Two genderfails from LiveJournal and its environs

  1. Becky

    I contacted LJ support about it last night, and within six hours got the following reply:

    Thank you for taking the time to contact us with your concerns. We understand that gender is not binary, and intend to respect that understanding for our users.

    At this time, the code you reference is not live on the site, and will not become so in the future. We know that you, and many other users, have serious concerns about any requirement to specify gender, so we’d like to take a moment to explain events and our position further.

    The intention of this code was to change the sign-up process to include a field for the selection of gender; that the code would completely disable the “Unspecified” option at the same time was deemed unacceptable. While the code in question had gone to our beta (testing) server, it had not gone to our production server, and will not do so due to this problem. Furthermore, we’d like to clarify that code posted to the changelog community is not always final, as such code must then go through the beta testing process and can often be changed before actual implementation.

    Additionally, some erroneous information has been spread regarding the potential public display of the gender field. We would like to clarify that gender is not currently publicly displayed on the profile, nor anywhere else on the site, and there are no plans to change this behavior.

    LiveJournal Community Care Team

    1. quartzpebble

      I think this is the best response that I’ve seen LiveJournal give for an issue like this. It takes users’ concerns seriously, doesn’t blame them for *having* concerns, and gives a clear explanation. I really don’t like how they’ve handled some things in the past, but props to them on this one.

  2. Carrie

    It makes me so mad when people “punish” a person they don’t like by disregarding hir preferred gender identity and pronouns. Just, no. Zie may be a terrible person, but hir gender identity is not relevant to the things zie’s done. Furthermore, they’re just showing their transphobia.

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