Gender & metafilter names May 1, 2021 2:18 PM   Subscribe

I just started a new profile, blueberry monster, mostly because this name gets misgendered too often. I'm wondering who else would like the chance to point out what your gender is (because it gets mistaken from your username). I'd also like to hear from anyone else who changed to a new account for gender reasons.
posted by Margalo Epps to MetaFilter-Related at 2:18 PM (59 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite

Yeah, but people are too lazy to check that before making assumptions.
posted by LionIndex at 3:23 PM on May 1 [5 favorites]


I think blueberry monster is more talking about misgendering and/or implicit gender coding in usernames themselves, not the additional optional info on the profile page. When the most immediate information you have to work with is a username, the gendered valances of that handle can come into play in a way that someone might not of (or outright could not have) anticipated when they signed up. We've had a number of folks spin up a new account over the years for various versions of this!
posted by cortex (staff) at 3:25 PM on May 1 [13 favorites]


As someone who uses she/her pronouns and has a flower in her username, I can't recall ever getting misgendered, but I appreciate the reminder to be more careful about this. I reckon I've carelessly misgendered more people than I know, and that sucks, and I will try to do better.

I really like the username blueberry monster. Thanks for letting us know that's you!
posted by the primroses were over at 3:57 PM on May 1 [6 favorites]


Yeah, the hardest part of picking a new name was losing my account history and people knowing me. So I thought I'd make it clearer who I am.
And yes, this was intended to be a place for people who get misgendered on Metafilter to talk about it. Or for people who changed user names for gender reasons to share who they are so that people know them still.
I'm not actually asking for any feature changes. (And yes, my pronouns were on my page, but who looks when they think they can guess?)
posted by blueberry monster at 4:20 PM on May 1 [8 favorites]


I confess: I mis-specied you, and always thought of you as a bird. (That would be Margalo, from Stuart Little.) I like your new name!
posted by MonkeyToes at 5:27 PM on May 1 [16 favorites]


I've been misgendered once or twice based on my username. I have thought about retiring it, but more because I don't love it rather than any gender confusion. I understand that this is a privileged viewpoint.
posted by under_petticoat_rule at 6:00 PM on May 1


Oh, and thanks the primroses were over and MonkeyToes. Monster child helped me brainstorm names and pick this one out.
posted by blueberry monster at 6:31 PM on May 1 [2 favorites]


(If it's okay for me to expand this beyond Metafilter):
For obvious reasons I don't get misgendered on here, but I get called "he" quite a bit on Reddit, which is a pain in the ass because you used to get hit with "there are no girls on the internet" if you tried to correct people. And it's not like I want any kind of special treatment, it's that when the long thoughtful comment I wrote gets credited to an imaginary "he" it makes me feel as if women's thoughts and works are invisible.

...But I also really don't want to have a less gender-neutral name on Reddit.
posted by Jeanne at 8:06 PM on May 1 [15 favorites]


praemunire is a woman's name. I always find it instructive to see who assumes a gender-neutral handle attached to, shall we say, a more direct and forthright posting style means "man." I hesitate to call it "misgendering," though, as it's an artifact of sexism and not as awful as what happens to gender-nonconforming/trans people.
posted by praemunire at 10:35 PM on May 1 [6 favorites]


a lot of this will be so dependent on cultural knowledge, so i'm fairly ambivalent about the whole issue in the wider global space because it's to be expected. like mine is a pun but there's a gender marker to it, but i don't expect people to know. my context though is working in the international space and i WILL hit cultural contexts where my lack of knowledge shows, especially names that're culturally specific but no wider relation to major religions, eg a popular regional feminine suffix but that's not associated with the religious naming traditions i'm familiar with. Which means a lot of googling, hoping it's a fairly common name tht I can update my heuristics. so i'm habituated to not mind the initial mistakes, because i don't have an internationally (or locally either) common name myself. that carries into my conduct in pseudonymous spaces. tl;dr - i grew up not having a western christian/global mainstream name, so i'm used to it.
posted by cendawanita at 11:38 PM on May 1 [2 favorites]


Much like I've had to in meatspace as a trans woman making the choices I make, I've just gotten used to correcting people. Thankfully, it's not a particularly big deal for me.
posted by Dysk at 1:52 AM on May 2 [1 favorite]


I've been misgendered based on my user name but I really don't mind because I guess I'm one of those gender fluid people who live in a perpetual state of staring out of the eyes of the meat sack they inhabit.

My privilege (which is also luck) is that I get to not mind because who gives a fuck about me. I don't have to wear stilettoes and panty hose because of my work's dress code. I couldn't give a shit about my blotchy skin and my hairy legs because I don't have anyone commenting on that. I have a ridiculously deep voice along with magnificent breasts and a love of all clothes that suit me from all the clothing departments and anyone who even thinks about questioning my aesthetic is greeted with an arched eyebrow or a 'wha?' if pushed.

The thing is, it's mostly age that's got me here. I played all the parts when I was younger and took it very much to heart if anyone questioned my choices. Getting to this point is a massive privilege, I recognise that. I'm very lucky but also I am who I am and what I am is not who everyone else is, so I apologise if I've ever assumed something about someone based on one little thing.

You are who you are, and good on you.
posted by h00py at 4:16 AM on May 2 [13 favorites]


Yeah, but people are too lazy to check that before making assumptions.

It is also extremely sparsely populated; a condition likely made worse by the recent field changes. I would be surprised if more than 1/10 of 1% of profiles have that field filled out. Half the commenters in this thread don't.
posted by Mitheral at 6:56 AM on May 2 [2 favorites]


Without having any idea how much work it would be (or how useful, depending on desktop/mobile user splits), but is there any way to have a mouseover bubble (or whatever those are called, like the alt-text on XKCD or Oglaf) that, when a (logged in) user hovers their mouse over another user's name on the site, pronouns could pop up?

If it was possible, it might give users like blueberry monster a way to avoid having to create a new profile.

Obviously, I have no idea the logistics behind it, but making it opt in, treating it like the gender field on the profile page in that it wouldn't be a toy or a gag, but a way to make discussion and interaction a better experience for everyone, it could be kind of useful.

I have a feeling this is probably a ridiculous resource intensive thing, but honestly, I don't know.
posted by Ghidorah at 7:21 AM on May 2 [1 favorite]


I switched to an ungendered name on here in 2011 too just because I felt like it would make it easier to participate in conversation, be treated as an adult & not be talked down to. Hopefully things have changed since then.
posted by bleep at 7:45 AM on May 2 [11 favorites]


Which is not exactly getting misgendered per se but is more like "being accurately gendered to everyone's detriment" so I thought I'd skip the whole thing.
posted by bleep at 7:48 AM on May 2 [6 favorites]


I prefer they/them (I'm AFAB who identifies mostly as not cis, and they/them works best). I'm not necessarily upset when people assume/use she/her pronouns, but I really really appreciate it when people use they/them and I definately notice!

My username definitely is solidly she/her and fairly consistently I am called she/her, but it doesn't bother me enough to actually go through with a username change. I definately have other usernames that are more gender neutral and would be more effective . If my feelings on the matter change, I would concider a username change here.
posted by AlexiaSky at 7:53 AM on May 2 [2 favorites]


I was just dealing with this today as I was updating my profile information. I wondered whether I should put in my preferred pronouns, but ironically that reminds me so strongly of all the times I've had to deal with strangers asking me if I'm "a boy or a girl" , and sales ladies telling me pointedly that "these are ladies jeans" and being told "these are the ladies toilets" and so on. I know my reaction is not rational and I should just indicate my pronouns but so far I just can't get myself to do it.
posted by Zumbador at 8:35 AM on May 2 [3 favorites]


My approach is to keep in mind that I don't know anyone's gender here, unless I am familiar with their user name and have seem them refer to their own gender, so everyone here is a "they" in my head unless I have more specific knowledge.

It helps me avoid assuming gender from a user name or from writing style.

I also try to read every relationship AskMe carefully for pronouns so that I am not assuming genders when I reply. If it seems important for me to know someone's gender to reply or to refer to them (not usually the case), I will look at some of their posts or comments to see if there is a clear indication.
posted by See you tomorrow, saguaro at 9:12 AM on May 2 [29 favorites]


Huh, wow. This is an interesting question because it makes me realize that I default to NOT assuming gender unless some aspect of the person’s post/comments explicitly call it out. IMO, this is basic politeness, especially online? But I realize others may be coming from different sets of norms.

That said, I chose the boring but accurate conjunction of my first and middle initials + surname as my username when joining the site, and have never regretted it. (The gender ID that feels the most right for me is “non-binary woman”, but I honestly prefer to just engage on axes other than gender as much as possible; I find she/her and they/them pronouns equally acceptable). I really dislike losing profile history, though, so if I had a user name that resulted in too many gendered assumptions right off the bat, I would likely still keep it unless the discomfort of the gender stuff outweighed the annoyance of changing over. But ymmv, of course.
posted by aecorwin at 9:25 AM on May 2 [3 favorites]


My approach is to keep in mind that I don't know anyone's gender here, unless I am familiar with their user name and have seem them refer to their own gender, so everyone here is a "they" in my head unless I have more specific knowledge.

I've really been working on this from a mod perspective, using they in the podcast unless I've clicked over to someone's profile and they have pronouns noted, or if I know them personally and know which pronouns they prefer. It's a good habit to get into and I'm sorry it's taken me so long to really start doing it reliably. I hope people are mostly okay with errors falling on the side of gender-indefinite (or definitely preferring they/them) as opposed to making a guess based on usernames.

Reminder to everyone: you are welcome to fill out the pronoun field on the profiles; we did blow out all the information that was there on the previous gender/pronouns field because people were using it for all sorts of reasons and we figured getting people to just re-fill it when it was obvious what the field was for was a better idea. It took too long to get to this point, certainly, but hopefully now it can serve its purpose.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 9:50 AM on May 2 [9 favorites]


Oh I think I got misgendered here once years ago and it made me realize that people could read my name as yasa-man. So I guess I will take this opportunity to point out that, no, my name is just yasaman, which is Persian for jasmine, and I prefer she/her pronouns (though I don't mind they/them).
posted by yasaman at 1:30 PM on May 2 [6 favorites]


I am routinely surprised by people’s gender in this place. I find that surprise both enjoyable and chastening and I think it’s good for me. Sorry if I’ve ever misgendered you out loud, everybody! I’ll make a note to try to use “they” when I don’t actually know, which is really almost always.
posted by eirias at 3:43 PM on May 2 [2 favorites]


I know my reaction is not rational and I should just indicate my pronouns but so far I just can't get myself to do it.
You don't have to like using pronouns or have to have pronouns that you prefer. I know at least one person who doesn't like them at all. I know a lot more who are iffy about the ones they've chosen or are happy enough with a wide range. It can be difficult.
posted by blueberry monster at 3:56 PM on May 2 [8 favorites]


I've been misgendered despite my username. I can't recall if it's happened on Mefi (and I'm not going to trawl google to find out) but certainly on reddit where I have the same username.
posted by muddgirl at 5:20 PM on May 2


Thanks for the reminder about the new gender format, Jessamyn. I sometimes wish I had chosen a more non-obvious gendered username, but I don’t care enough about it to go all BND. But I’m sure there are many, many users I’ve misgendered over the years and I’m trying to do better.
posted by computech_apolloniajames at 7:37 PM on May 2 [2 favorites]


I'd also like to hear from anyone else who changed to a new account for gender reasons.

it me
posted by an octopus IRL at 7:45 AM on May 3 [7 favorites]


The thing is, gender assumptions change over time so you can never quite be sure of any name you choose. I didn't think my nick had gender connotations when I picked it in the early 2000s, but then Stranger Things happened.

That said, context seems to matter more than the name. The internet is sure I'm male if I talk about physical sciences, and equally sure I'm female if I'm writing web fiction. Male if gushing about spaceships, female if discussing the best way to prepare tofu.

FYI: I don't want to specify a gender online. I agree with using They/Them as default for everybody unless the individual's preferences are known.
posted by Eleven at 9:40 AM on May 3 [1 favorite]


I was just dealing with this today as I was updating my profile information. I wondered whether I should put in my preferred pronouns, but ironically that reminds me so strongly of all the times I've had to deal with strangers asking me if I'm "a boy or a girl" , and sales ladies telling me pointedly that "these are ladies jeans" and being told "these are the ladies toilets" and so on. I know my reaction is not rational and I should just indicate my pronouns but so far I just can't get myself to do it.

This is a huge part of why I generally decline to specify pronouns in cis-dominated spaces, especially straight spaces. Hell will pretty much freeze over before I believe you're asking because you care about me, and aren't just trying to signal to other cis people how progressive you are.
posted by hoyland at 9:48 AM on May 3 [7 favorites]


Interesting note on preferred pronouns: my IRL name could be either gender: "Origin of ***:

***derived from an English surname of Welsh origin and was a masculine name in former times, but today it is mostly a girl’s name. *** is as well a short form of names like ***, *** or ***.
Meaning of ***

*** means “lake” (from Welsh “***”) and e.g. “soft”, “mild” and “flexible” (from Old High German “***")."

When I enrolled in college, I added an E to the end of my name to emphasize the feminine. It did no good, because along with my course assignments and housing information, I was handed a draft deferment packet as well (this was before the draft for military service was eliminated), which was usually only given to male students.
posted by Lynsey at 12:10 PM on May 3 [1 favorite]


On an old account with a gender neutral name I made a comment that went against the flow of a thread and a bunch of female posters assumed I must be male, which led to more incorrect assumptions and accusations. They were vicious. Once I revealed myself to be female, they moved on to demeaning my profession and class. It was eye-opening and extremely disappointing. I have also had someone go for me because they assumed I pushed back on their tens of comments defending jokes about child rape because they were trans. They then attacked me, with no moderator intervention, for a few more comments. I spoke up because I'm a CSA survivor and reading that thread and those comments literally made me sick, and then I was piled on for it. I had to take a long break from this place after that.

There's quite a bit of unchecked bullying and nastiness here.
posted by Stoof at 4:54 PM on May 3 [5 favorites]


I used to always use carefully gender-neutral screen names on social media, and was often assumed to be a man at first. But now, “The Underpants Monster” is the most neutral one I use; on other sites I’ve drifted toward using more feminine-sounding handles.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 12:38 AM on May 4


'karmakaze' is a carefully neutral handle from my BBS days when I was dealing with tabletop RPG group (c. 1990 or so), after having some experiences being, as bleep put it, "accurately gendered to everyone's detriment" and one or twice being frightened by weird homophobic attacks set off by "there are no girls on the internet" plus an insufficiently masculine presentation. Once systems started asking for a firstname + lastname to go with psueds I also carefully chose 'Kit Kendrick' as the neutral name attached. (I sometimes think 'Kit' has migrated femmewards and I might have better chosen 'Kris', but it's too late now.)

It rarely takes a deep dive into my posting history on any platform anymore to figure out that I function as a ciswoman because I've stopped censoring myself over time, but I avoid gendered userpics and announced pronouns. In person no amount of correction is going to get me anything but she/her, and online I'd prefer people to use whichever pronoun they feel fits their perception of me, even/especially if that changes with familiarity or context. (I'm not so much genderfluid as genderambivalent.) In fact, now I'm wondering if I should get rid of that 15 year old photo in my profile.
posted by Karmakaze at 7:42 AM on May 4 [2 favorites]


> it made me realize that people could read my name as yasa-man

Oh. Um. That's how I've always read your username. I wonder how many other names I'm misinterpreting?
posted by The corpse in the library at 12:46 PM on May 4 [1 favorite]


But it should not be hard to implement

This may be true from a strictly technical sense. It is not true in most other senses of this and is not a direction we're currently exploring.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 1:16 PM on May 4


I wonder how many other names I'm misinterpreting?

Well, I can tell you mine isn't holy-land, as people seem to have a penchant for reading it.
posted by hoyland at 3:59 PM on May 4


If people think my username is feminine or masculine, they are misgendering me.
posted by Chrysopoeia at 9:18 PM on May 4 [3 favorites]


Oh. Um. That's how I've always read your username. I wonder how many other names I'm misinterpreting?

Relevant Meta
posted by cozenedindigo at 4:03 AM on May 5 [1 favorite]


I think my username is fairly neutral (though my AskMe history makes my gender pretty obvious).

I'm actually curious whether people have ever mistaken my gender on account of my username?
posted by Omnomnom at 4:24 AM on May 5


Mod note: Couple comments deleted. floam, you're coming across as arguing for points/abstractly in a context where people have been invited to share their own experiences with how other members infer gender from their usernames, which obviously can be a close-to-the-bone personal intense topic for folks even if it isn't for you. Please stop. Check the guidelines.
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 6:41 AM on May 5 [2 favorites]


I use gender-neutral usernames everywhere very deliberately - I really don't want my gender to be considered as part of every comment I make so I avoid anything that globally points out gender including pronoun fields. It's not a secret and I'll state it when it's relevant but people tend to make certain assumptions and interpret your comments differently when they know your gender and I hate that so much. I imagine almost everyone online as genderless by default (including both of the usernames in the OP, fwiw) unless I remember that they've stated it in the past.
posted by randomnity at 7:58 AM on May 5 [4 favorites]


Hm, I've only seen Pax as a man's name. I'm a woman, but I don't recall anyone gendering or misgendering me. Some of my comments do make it clear I'm a woman, I guess?
posted by Pax at 9:04 AM on May 5


I'm really bad with names and other characteristics. Like, really bad. I think part of it is that my brain makes spurious connections between things so, for instance, I confuse names that have similar patterns of vowels. But with usernames, the spurious-connection machine goes wild and I often have to to work backwards to figure out why it made whatever connection it did.

I'm actually curious whether people have ever mistaken my gender on account of my username?

No, because "O" is a feminine letter. Everybody whose name begins or ends with "o" is now officially female, sorry Otto von Bismarck.

If people think my username is feminine or masculine, they are misgendering me.

That's cool, Chrysopoeia sounds like Chrysoprase, which is neither feminine or masculine.

praemunire is a woman's name.

I will try to keep that in mind, despite the fact that bills and writs feel masculine to me.

I absolutely know that none of this makes any sense whatsoever. I suppose it's like synaesthesia for gender. But when it comes to actual gender I'm horribly bad at it and have been quite relieved to use gender-neutral pronouns.
posted by Joe in Australia at 10:27 PM on May 5 [1 favorite]


My old username was a song title that began with a woman's name. At the time I was still an egg (i.e. someone unaware and/or in denial about being trans), but a lot of people thought I was a woman on account of the username, until another user used "he/him" pronouns about me after a meetup. This sparked a great deal of confusion in a MetaTalk thread that was for the most part hilarious.

Well, today I'm an out trans woman, so to all those older users who thought I was a woman on account of my previous user name: you were right all along!
posted by Aya Hirano on the Astral Plane at 7:13 AM on May 6 [24 favorites]


My old username was a song title that began with a woman's name. At the time I was still an egg (i.e. someone unaware and/or in denial about being trans), but a lot of people thought I was a woman on account of the username

Reminds me of Alice Cooper. Originally it was the name of the band, but so many people (naturally) assumed it was the name of an individual performer that he ended up taking it as his stage name.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 7:15 PM on May 6


afroblanca became Afroblanco for precisely this reason, as I recall.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 10:47 AM on May 7 [1 favorite]


My name has been misinterpreted to mean "blowjob" which apparently I should have been aware of, and/or male, which I am not, but I'm not willing to lose my bookmarks/favourites should I change my name. It occasionally makes me cranky, but in the mid-80s I was using bulletin boards (a precursor to www) and 99% of people on those sites seemed to be male and to doubt my femaleness. I'm privileged that in my daily life, I'm not often misgendered, so, for me, it's relatively easy to let it go.
posted by b33j at 11:52 PM on May 7


I like that my username here doesn't seem to indicate a particular gender here and that people refer to me as 'they' or without using pronouns.
posted by plonkee at 10:03 AM on May 8


Plonkee, it's good that people don't assume, but can I ask why you haven't filled out the pronoun field on your profile?
posted by Joe in Australia at 6:02 PM on May 8


Because there's a disconnect between my preferred pronouns with this pseudonym and IRL which I have yet to resolve.
posted by plonkee at 6:13 PM on May 8 [2 favorites]


That makes a lot of sense, thanks.
posted by Joe in Australia at 7:36 PM on May 8


I just want to add a now extremely belated & non-gendered note of appreciation for your previous username just because I remember the Cynthia Voigt series (which may or may not hold up to my 2021 perspective) fondly and don’t see it mentioned much.

My own username seems pretty un-gendered but I find I’m more often assumed to be a man online. I’m not sure why but to some extent that suits me and matches meatspace (I’m a butch woman who is sometimes read as a dude and is fine with it.) Although in a recent thread I think someone did not realize I was speaking from my own lived experience about a particular thing and may have gotten mad about it because of that.
posted by needs more cowbell at 4:48 AM on May 9


Yeah, but people are too lazy to check that before making assumptions.

It is also extremely sparsely populated; a condition likely made worse by the recent field changes. I would be surprised if more than 1/10 of 1% of profiles have that field filled out. Half the commenters in this thread don't.

I filled out the pronoun field because of having read this thread. I'm abashed to say that I haven't been following MeTa as routinely as I usually do and I missed the field changes.
posted by virago at 7:32 PM on May 9 [1 favorite]


I've been misgendered as male because people misread my username as Bilbo.
posted by Biblio at 2:02 PM on May 10 [2 favorites]


Hobbitual misreading.
posted by Joe in Australia at 3:31 PM on May 10 [5 favorites]


I filled out the pronoun field because of having read this thread. I'm abashed to say that I haven't been following MeTa as routinely as I usually do and I missed the field changes.

I was just coming here to make a similar comment; now my profile is up to date. I know in the past I have misgendered other members in my head. If I have made comments based on that please accept my apologies. In general, I have gotten in the habit of trying to avoid pronouns and refer to other users by name instead, thus avoiding a number of potential problems.
posted by TedW at 9:58 AM on May 11


I married all these people on Metafilter. Gender never occurred to me. I have had this neutral name for a long time. My skin is thick, nature's trick.
posted by Oyéah at 7:46 PM on May 13 [1 favorite]


My longstanding value for the gender field was ¯\_(ツ)_/¯. I haven't filled out the new field because I dislike declaring a pronoun preference and I felt like putting the same thing there again might read as the sort of jokey response it was intended to get away from. It wouldn't be a joke, per se - it's a perfectly reasonable response for myself personally. But it's not a straightforward answer to the question either. So blank it is, which is fine. I'm quite possibly overthinking it.

¯\_(ツ)_/¯
posted by vibratory manner of working at 7:47 PM on May 13 [1 favorite]


Which is also to say that I have not been misgendered due to my username because it is difficult to misgender me; you really have to do worse than "assumed one of the standardized genders" to make it count as such
posted by vibratory manner of working at 7:53 PM on May 13


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