One of the most exciting aspects of our Labs™ space is gaining the flexibility to work on passion projects with the benefit of the full Savas team supporting you. The way organizations and apps ask for gender on form fields has always been something of personal interest to me as a non-binary person. It's been exciting for me to see the rest of the Savas team taking note of this issue as well.
Earlier this year, an idea popped up in our #labs Slack channel: creating a chrome extension to auto-detect gender fields and draft an email users could send to organizations prompting them to consider if they need the gender field while suggesting more inclusive alternatives.
It didn't take long for this to evolve into the idea of a small site that provides clear explanations for some of the best use cases to include gender forms fields, as well as resources for further education. Before long, Should I Ask for Gender was born.
One of the most challenging parts of tackling this project was developing content. The closest thing we have to a subject matter expert in regards to this topic was my own lived experience. A major part of the development of this site was simply doing our own research, educating ourselves, and finding ways to distill all of that down into approachable information.
It would be impossible for us to cover every single use case someone might have for a gender field, so we focused as much as possible on broad use cases — Demographic Information, Targeted Advertising, and Medical/Legal Records. Of those, Demographic Information is the broadest of all, and in essence, can act as a catch-all for many different areas.
We put a big focus on making this site as approachable as possible for people who have never been exposed to different gender identities. A big part of helping us do that was adding a Glossary page. This page provides a simple interface for users to search for a term they're unfamiliar with. Additionally, we added code to automatically highlight glossary terms throughout the rest of the site and add tooltips with the appropriate definition.
As part of our research, we were able to compile a list of helpful resources related to this topic. Each potential answer a user comes to on the quiz provides a list of related resources to help the user continue their research and expand their knowledge.
We hope by sharing this tool, we can steer form designers and content creators toward a perspective of inclusivity while reducing the stress and alienation of non-binary folx interacting with those forms. If you're still unsure about the relevance of inquiring your users about their gender, take a quiz and find out if you should at Should I As For Gender. We'd love to hear your feedback.