Can an additional selection be added to gender dropdown menu? [closed]

+30 votes

After I read this post and others with similar concerns, I concluded that we perhaps need another choice in the gender drop-down menu to add cover such cases.

My suggestion is to add "Indeterminable" as a choice for cases in which gender may never be determined (without exhumation and DNA testing, anyway). This selection would not generate an error as it would correctly define the current gender status for any profile on which it is used.

For new profiles and those currently marked as Error - 509: Missing gender, we could more accurately define the gender status those that are truly indeterminable as such. This would avoid marking as "false errors/hide forever" those profiles for which a gender may eventually be found but which would otherwise have been hidden and possibly missed later.

Of course, this change would only be made if it could be done technically and economically - the WikiTree way!

Post your opinions freely and openly and in as strong or tame a manner as you see fit, my fellow WikiTreers. (tag edits welcome, too!)

closed with the note: Great Discussion, Everyone!!
asked in WikiTree Tech by Lindy Jones G2G6 Pilot (151k points)
closed by Lindy Jones
Lindy, I will never use it and I may not agree with all of the reasoning but if it will eliminate errors then I am all for it. WT should realize that not everything is as simple as Black and White. Also, adding it in a note somewhere is not my favorite idea on anything because not everyone reads every note on every profile that we read. Good thinking.
Thanks for your input, Jerry!

While the main goal is to reduce errors for "genderless" infants, the additional field could also be used for adult profiles that fit the overall definition of the field.
Indeterminable? How about "unknown" in the case of infant deaths where the only record is a grave. In the code, I would recommend an "if then conditional operator" to limit the use of "unknown" gender to infant deaths and avoid the 21st century notion of pick a gender.
I have a couple infants whose has headstones that only state Infant (Last Name) and maybe a date. No Name. No gender stated.
Thanks for your input, Victoria!

The idea is to separate general unknowns, which would still generate a suggestion, from a narrower group for which we don't want to generate a suggestion (see the referenced thread from my question).

Perhaps your coding recommendation is the way to go.
Thanks for your input, Lynette!

That is the main type of profile for which we would want to implement this or a similar feature.
For some unknown reason, all the reply links for the answers and comments below have disappeared from this thread.

So thanks to everyone who posted!!

And now, they are back - appears to be because I had this comment box open.

I have to get back to the other commenters later.

Oh, and thanks, Keith, for the tag edits!
Best idea!
Thanks for your support, Patricia!
Marriages come and marriages go.  Likewise names.  There are options for these events.  Can we apply the same logic to gender?  There is usually a gender assigned at birth that may be corrected later.  Rather than insisting the gender assigned at birth remain, or marking it indeterminant/unknown, have it changed.  There may even be periods where a person doesn't have a gender at all.  I think we need to stop thinking of gender as fixed, but as a variable like marriage.
Thanks for your input, Donna; a very interesting idea!
I believe that many transgender people would tell you that they always had the gender they now identify with, so they would not accept date ranges. They would distinguish between their genetic gender and the gender they identify with.

12 Answers

+13 votes
Best answer
I'm reminded of an incident at work a few years ago, a fellow worker brought in an obituary from a local paper. It dealt with a woman who belonged to a local sect (unimportant in this discussion) who had born 14 children, 9 living, died at age 28.

My point being that theses children, died in infancy or youth, should not be forgotten, if for no other reason to  honor their mother.
answered by Tom Bredehoft G2G6 Pilot (185k points)
selected by Diana Marable
And they can be honored-- in the narrative section of their mother's profile.
As can any of us, Jillaine. Should we just create a profile for our oldest known ancestor and add all of the descendants in the biography, rather than creating profiles for each of them?

Some of us prefer to add the profile for a known infant, even if the gender is unknown; but those who don't see any value in such profiles are free not to create any. As Tom implies, these infants may not have any appreciable life from our point of view, but their families most likely loved them, if only for a brief time.

But the point of my suggestion is not whether or not to create such profiles; that has already been done and probably will continue to be done. Deciding whether or not THAT is a practice to encourage or discourage should be done in a separate thread.
I often find references to an individual having X children in one place and X+1 in another with the inference being the 1 was a child who died young.  By adding a profile (however minimal) you are making note of the difference in the documented numbers of offspring.
Thanks for your input, Patricia!
+19 votes
Or, what about "Unknown", as in the case where infants are said to have died or been buried, but no sex is mentioned in any record or on the gravestone.
answered by Bobbie Hall G2G6 Mach 8 (80.1k points)
I feel Unknown is too vague and is covered by our current blank space. We still want an unknown gender setting to be captured by the errors report, in case the omission was just an oversight.

By adding Indeterminable as a selection, we can separate those who are unlikely ever to be identified by gender from the errors report and from Unknowns whose gender may reasonably be expected to be found without having to resort to exhumation and DNA testing.

It just adds flexibility without our having to disrupt our work to correct a needlessly reported error.
I like "Indeterminable".
I think it's probably going to be too long for the field (plus it's a 'big word' for some folks *grin* and not understood too well).

'Unknown' is used by most genealogical software to indicate an unknown gender.  That covers both the 'I'll find it later' and 'not recorded'.
I mainly picked "Indeterminable" to stimulate the discussion and to help further our educations! I don't doubt that another term would be used if we choose to add another field.

But I don't see how it would be too long, Ros. Are you speaking from a technical perspective? I'd really appreciate to hear from that angle, since that will be a major factor in the decision.

That's a good point about the genealogy programs, though. However, those are the profiles that we want the errors program to find; so using "Unknown" would prevent (possible) errors that we want to be found.
'Indeterminable' has 14 characters.  In order for that to fit within the data field, the field itself would probably have to be lengthened, which would incur cost etc.  I'm speaking only from the perspective of my RL work, where if you ask for a data field to be lengthened by only two characters, anybody would think you were asking for it to be decorated with diamonds and pearls as well. *grin*
Thanks for that information, Ros!

Do you know what the current limit is for that field?

If we presume it is 6, then we need a shorter word (probably will be less descriptive, too), such as Skip or Omit.

Is the cost one time or ongoing?

Does adding the extra selection itself incur similar costs?

We must know more!!
Those two little characters could create another whole Y2K all over again!

Seriously, I would like the error report to have a way of distinguishing "forgotten to fill in" errors from "gender is unknown" situations.  I'm not sure how often gender actually is forgotten because if I forget, I get an error message before the profile is created.  Since that would be a purposeful override for the unknown situation, I doubt a real forgotten takes place very often.  It would be nice to have an actual field to select for unknown (whatever it's called).
@Cindy Cooper

I created my first new Wikitree profile yesterday (last one was I guess a year ago) and now its much more validations and warnings on gender....


I guess GEDCOM import is still under the radar and has less validation.....
I have asked several times for the lines around the 'gender' box to be made thicker and therefore more noticeable.

I have only forgotten to input a gender since the box was moved (brilliant) and the warning has appeared.

PLEEEEEEEEEASE thicken those lines, then people will not float over it because they don't even see it.
Thanks for your input, Cindy!

That is the general rationale behind this discussion - a way to distinguish between the "forgot to fill in" from the "we just can't determine yet" groups.

Specifically it is to help the Cemetery Project with their work, which sometimes involves creating profiles from cemetery records. The project members often have records for infants who aren't gender identified; thus, their project is more affected by the currently unavoidable suggestions/errors than the average profile manager's work is.
Thanks for your input, Ros!

The problem my discussion attempts to solve is not the failure to select the known gender. As I mention in my reply to Cindy, we are trying to make life easier for the Cemetery Project members by preventing the generation of suggestions/errors when they create profiles (generally for infants) from sources that don't identify gender. However, we still want suggestions created to alert us for any other gender-selection omissions.

But thicker borders for the field box wouldn't hurt!
Thanks for your input, Magnus!

As you note, we now are given an alert (banner?) when we try to create a new profile without a gender selection. I've been caught a few times already.

I am a great fan of the alert banners!!
+12 votes
I suppose that at this point, the gender of most of these infants is indeterminable.
answered by J. Crook G2G6 Pilot (151k points)
And I feel we should more accurately reflect that in their profiles, while also keeping them off the errors report.

Two birds killed with one stone!!
+12 votes
Just to play Devil's Advocate. If an Infant died at birth and we don't know its name, never mind its sex, does it really warrant a profile? Clearly it has no descendants. Wouldn't it be better to just refer to it in the profile of its mother or father?
answered by Jeanie Roberts G2G6 Pilot (116k points)

That is not an issue, in my opinion.

Some managers may create a profile; some may not. But there currently are such profiles, and undoubtedly will be more. Over time, this addition would lessen server usage for unnecessary tasks.

The infant still had ancestors. Also, if we have a source document, we know the infant existed, even if stillborn (existed at least in body). And each profile manager is free to decide how to acknowledge (or not acknowledge) the infant.


I concur with Lindy. with her solution we have a choice, to list nor not. The current option, list with no gender named, generates an error.
I can see that you are trying to address what you see as a problem for existing profiles. But, I still think that these profiles should not be created. We know, for a fact, that every person has parents, but we don't created an endless tree of unknown parents with empty profiles. I see little value in creating a profile for children, for whom we have zero information, especially stillborn children. I don't think this is being unkind or callous its just to my mind not relevant.  

Of course this is just my opinion, offered for your review. I respect the fact that others feel differently and will abide by the consensus.
I am currently looking a baby that was born in 1884 that died before turning 2. I do not know the baby's name, gender, where the baby died or is buried. The only reason I know the baby existed is because the baby's grandfather filed a law suit against the farther for burial and coffin costs and broken promise to marry his daughter. They won the case but in the court documents the baby was always referred to as "the infant." They were awarded $1900.00 but never received a dime. I haven't listed the baby on my tree because there is no where to list a gender.
Lori, all this could be handled in the narrative of one or both of the parents.
I make a profile if there is a source for a person.  Although I may also put a note on a parent's or sibling's profile, the source is mainly about the infant birth or death.  The sex of these individuals is often indeterminable. And when names were reused, dates become more important. All can be very important clues to other family members.   Location, health,  re-marriage of parents - all of these can help  document families.  And that is what we are trying to do, right? -NGP
Jeanie, I am not telling our fellow managers to create unsourced profiles, nor am I telling them that they have to create profiles for the target group. But several of these profiles currently exist and more will be created; some of our fellow managers just want a method to keep them off the error report.

Lori, that is an interesting story! While you aren't being asked to create a profile for the child, you should definitely add the story to the parents' biographies (if you haven't already) or to a free-space. You don't need to know the gender to create a profile for the child; but if you create one now without a gender selection, it will trigger an error. An additional gender field specifically omitted from error review will eliminate that error.

Nanette, I agree; if I have a (reliable) source, I create a profile. But I would like to avoid unnecessarily generated errors whenever possible. A targeted field that is purposely omitted from error review will save us time and - more importantly - aggravation!

Tom, thanks for your input and support! The additional field is just another option; it adds no hardship to anyone, and each of us is free to use it or ignore it.
I will continue to create profiles for such infants. At some point I fully expect the suggestions report to be able to compare census data with Wikitree data and be able to alert us when a mother is listed as having had 10 children but only 8 have profiles. This will be very helpful on the early census records where only sex and age are reported and not names.

It is a ways off, but I am already taking steps to make sure I incorporate such data in my profiles when I find it.
I agree, Lance, that we should create profiles for these infants when we have reasonably reliable sources to prove their existence. However, the census data regarding the number of children is not always reliable. Birth/christening and death/burial records would be more reliable sources to cite for these infants' profiles.
+9 votes
I personally do not add profiles for the still born children if they did not have a name.

I do however add profiles for those children who died even as soon as 2 days after birth provided they were given a name (And thus usually could be assigned a gender)
answered by Robynne Lozier G2G6 Pilot (433k points)
But others have and will continue to do so, Robynne. Then they receive the error, which we can avoid with another gender field purposely omitted from the error report.
+9 votes
They often have an entry in Find A Grave and a stone. If you are matching cemetery graves, they are created.  Just because someone doesn't have descendants do you really want to ignore them?  When you list children do you determine if they have descendants before you add them? What if their descendants don't have descendants? Do you remove everyone up the line?
answered by Sue Hall G2G6 Mach 8 (83.2k points)
How many of us wouldn't have profiles because we don't have children? :-)

That said, I'm with Jeanie-- I don't think we're adding much value by creating profiles for stillborns.

As for those that DO have profiles, with unknown gender, simply mark the (no gender) error as false.
Is it not one of WikiTree's goals to create profiles for everyone born from Year 1, Jillaine? When we have a reliable source indicating someone's birth, then we want to create a profile for that person.

Is not accuracy not another goal? Then why create a profile with an error if we can avoid that?

While a memorial at Findagrave may be an insufficient reason to create a profile, Sue, if the memorial has a source document attached, then we can support having a WikiTree profile.

Wikitree's mission is not that specific:



Our community's mission is to grow an accurate single family tree that connects us all and is freely available to us all.

How does omitting known-to-have-existed individuals from our tree give us an accurate tree?

Regardless of our various views on adding "genderless" and/or nameless infants, this issue is off-topic.

+9 votes
The addition of a third gender choice (be it "Unknown" or "Indeterminable" would resolve some problems (notably those nagging db_errors) people encounter in dealing with these profiles that get created for infants whose gender wasn't recorded.

I think it's a good idea.

However, if WikiTree adds this new gender designation, would it also be possible to add data options for transgender people? Trans individuals are offended by being labeled with their gender at birth, but of course for genetic genealogy we want to code them with their birth gender. I'm thinking that a trans person should continue to be coded with their gender at birth, but "transgender" could be added as a data qualifier and displayed as something like "Transmale" or "Transfemale", so (for example) a male who became a female would be displayed as "Male (Transfemale)." [I'm not sure I know the preferred terminology.]
answered by Ellen Smith G2G6 Pilot (852k points)
Excellent idea!
That would be the topic for a separate thread, Ellen.

I've seen other discussions regarding a desire for increased inclusiveness in the data fields, but someone would have to spearhead a focused discussion to further the cause.

Someday, maybe soon, we may need to re-evaluate the various sections of a profile to give better definition to all the data fields and how they display the data.
Well, we already have "Last Name at Birth" and "Current Last Name", so adding a second gender field is also an option. They would essentially be biological sex at birth vs. gender identity.

But I agree with Lindy in that the issue of gender identity is another topic, so I'll refrain from more exposition ;)
I am not advocating for a second gender field, Eric, just an additional selection for the current field. However, your idea may relate better to Ellen's answer as a way to accommodate an individual's preferred gender identity versus his/her biologically assigned gender.

We're getting some great ideas here, everyone! Keep up the good work!!
Instead of a tag for transgender person, why not add time to a gender the same as is done for marriages or even lives.  There is a beginning.  There is an end.  There may be time between one gender and the next just as there may be time between one marriage and the next.  Usually a gender is assigned at birth.  If there are source documents that contradict the current gender assignment, resolve it as you would other contradictions for non-permanent attributes.
Thanks for your input, Donna!
+5 votes
I think this is a good idea! How about "Unspecified"?
answered by Diana Marable G2G2 (2k points)
I don't think that will satisfy the need. "Unspecified" is essentially the same as "haven't filled it in yet," which is the same as what we have now when Gender is left blank.

People want to be able to indicate that a person's gender is not recorded anywhere and there is no reason to expect that it can ever be determined.
There are various terms we could choose, Diana,  that may be better that my pet term, such as Unspecified, Unrecorded, Mystery, Skip, etc. I do feel, however, that we should not use Unknown, if only because of GEDCOM uploads that use that term; we want those Unknowns to be captured by the error report, so we need a different term.

Whatever term we choose will probably be somewhat inexact, Ellen, but it will differentiate the data field from the current empty/Unknown choice. That is the main goal of this discussion, to decide if we need or want to create a gender subset that isn't error checked and if any benefits justify any costs.

The term itself is mainly to tell the error report to skip the field, but it should have some relevant meaning also to avoid excessive confusion.
+5 votes
You could always try "Unstated". That implies documentation that didn't put gender.
answered by Steven Tibbetts G2G6 Pilot (160k points)
Would "unsourced" work? To me, that says that there is no source for the gender, so it is unknown.
Thanks for your input, Steven and Denise!!

The word itself is meant mainly as a cue for the Data Doctors Project to skip the gender box on the profile, so maybe a simple term like "skip" would suffice.

Now, how did I overlook that term? Oh, I was trying to be complicated!!
+5 votes
I think "unknown" would be a better option. "Indeterminable" sounds too permanent. WikiTree gives us the platform to change profile information  if and when proper records are found to document even the tiniest of our ancestors.Sometimes new documents come to light, people share previously unshared information, etc. And I do believe each one should have its own profile. These infants were members of a family, and the families anticipated their arrival and grieved their loss I have seen many ancestors who experienced the loss of a child - and not all were identified with either a name or a gender. I see only "Infant Pike" for instance. Yes, these children should be remembered with an individual profile, but somewhere along the line any record of a name has not yet been found. And sometimes it's difficult to discern gender from a person's given name.
answered by Robin Kabrich G2G6 Mach 3 (30.2k points)
edited by Robin Kabrich
I vote for unknown.
Thanks for your input, Robin!

We had previously determined that "unknown" would probably not work because GEDCOM imports might use that term. However, since we now have a new GEDCOM system, that issue may now be moot.

Whatever term we choose, it can always be changed - just as any current gender selection can be changed now.
Thanks for your input, Dawn!

I was hoping to choose a less generic term, to set these type of profiles apart from the basic unknown-gender profile.

If we were to add another gender selection for these types of profiles, the selection of the term would probably fall to the Data Doctors Project or to the WikiTree Tech Team.
+1 vote
Perhaps the word "unrecorded" would cover a lot of the profiles.
answered by Patricia Stockley G2G6 Mach 8 (88.2k points)
Thanks for your input, Patricia!

As I mentioned in my reply to Dawn, I would like a more select term to be chosen, to give these infants a special place in/on our WikiTree.
You could always go with "undefined".
Thanks for your input, Steven!

Again, I would prefer to have a more personal term.
0 votes
Infant perhaps?
answered by Lance Martin G2G6 Mach 6 (67.2k points)

Thanks for your input, Lance! Infant would probably cover most of these problem profiles.

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