Wikitree needs to reformat profiles [for gender change]

+11 votes
Format does not accomodate gender change, which can and often does result in two legal identities, male and female.  Then again we live in a Manichean world.


Amd I just threw a wrench into the machinery. How to accomodate (hard work) or reject (because of work or religious/social expectations or bigotry


Result emoitional, psychological rigidity.
asked in WikiTree Tech by Jennifer Farrar G2G6 Mach 1 (14.3k points)
recategorized by Jillaine Smith
Hi Jennifer,

Thank you for sharing your thoughts about this... it's important that we express these things and discuss them.

WikiTree does quite a bit to accommodate all types of relationships and ways that they can be recorded and displayed.

An ancestor profile should have the gender they were born with.  Others can be mentioned in the biography section.

An active member can put whatever they wish on their own profile.  If they wish it changed at any time they can use the "edit" button and do so.

One thing to remember is that this site is primarily about genealogy in which connections made are through male and female interactions that result in descendants.  I think the way it is set up right now handles that pretty well.

What kind of a changes do you think could help us improve?

- Keith

A number of members have expressed interest in a data field that would allow additional options for Gender.

This G2G asked for Indeterminable or Unknown as an option, so that children of unknown gender would no longer be treated as data fields that someone hasn't filled in yet.

And there have been several G2G questions about handling transgender people, such as How do we enter transgender profiles?  and I have a family member that was born male but identifies as female so do I use her birth gender? When WikiTree was created, who knew that so many of our families would soon include people who started life with one gender and switched to another? For DNA tracing, biological gender at birth is appropriate, but transgender people are likely to be offended by being labeled that way. We need a data field that will acknowledge and respect a person's later identification as a different gender. Maybe this should be a "Trans" data qualifier for the gender field that indicates that the gender at birth will be retained in the data system, but the profile will display the person's current gender.

In my opinion, both of the comments above should have been answers - so I could upvote them!  Outstanding comments!

I don't think its urgent yet, but I don't think the question will go away.  for example, I'm wondering how I will enter a Canadian or Swedish or another record when it indicates another gender. 

Some countries are ahead of Canada, and our laws were just changed to require all identify records to have a third gender option. This means it may not be possible to guess someone's gender for a Wikitree profile.  It may also lead to import/export errors when the source file includes a third gender option.

I wonder how a third option in a simple drop down would add that much complexity? It seems to me it would certainly go a long way to preventing errors that can be anticipated. 

It's important that options for gender are flexible and also that gender does not prevent adding information. For example if a transwoman is designated female WikiTree won't allow the adding of Y-DNA information that could be important in confirming relationships.

Hi! I'm new here and just did some reading on these requests. I'm transgender and have DNA linked and have noticed that the assumptions about my genetics are a bit off and are only likely to be corrected if I present my profile falsely. Two things related to this:

1) As I'm entirely unwilling to change my gender on the site to male due to social implications, I'd like to suggest that (and there was interesting discussion of the scientific rationale for maintaining a DNA-gender field in the previous closed thread) there be options specific to DNA that are not necessarily encoded in a gender field that tries to be all things for all purposes. I think default assumptions are reasonable, but I should be able to override those assumptions on my own profile with a handful of options to accommodate different variations:

- My linked DNA inherits Y-DNA info from one individual (please specify, defaults to 'father')
- My linked DNA inherits X chromosome data from one individual (please specify, defaults to 'mother')
- My linked DNA inherits X chromosome data from two individuals (defaults to 'mother' and 'father')

Talking about chromosomes where we mean chromosomes is more useful scientifically and less socially and culturally sensitive than overloading "gender", allowing the gender field to be used as it is almost everywhere else, for social gender, however that appears in different societies. This doesn't accommodate all use cases (I can think of many more just in my circle of friends that would increase the complexity of this system) but it'd be a very good start.

2) It's not acceptable that the only option for a third or other gender is a blank field. One commenter in the aforementioned closed thread listed off many historical cultural gender categories that are completely disregarded by a binary system of gender. While I also agree with the commenter who said this site shouldn't necessarily strive to solve all problems with how we address gender in society, at the very least a "non-binary" or explicit "other (please specify)" option with an accompanying field would allow users to provide the information without it necessarily needing to be handled any differently than the blank/unknown option. The difference is it would be stating fact rather than pretending the fact didn't exist.

I have a partner/spouse who is non-binary. My only option at present is to leave their gender blank, which is certainly not very welcoming if I wanted to add them and try to get them interested in mapping their family's genealogy on here.

Excellent comment. I’ve made a similar comment previously. Problem is that there is a rigidity of thinking by members, management and moderators on this site.

We live, whether we like it or not, in a binary society.  Things are either left or right, up or down, good or evil, male or female.  The species has not fully evolved yet.

<!--[if !supportEmptyParas]--> As a transgendered person you may have experienced, depending on how well you pass, the confusion and discomfort of others who encounter you. If you are comfortable in your own skin, then their discomfort can be a source of entertainment.

<!--[if !supportEmptyParas]--> Unfortunately even on an impersonal site like this, the discomfort of others bleeds through. Witness their unwillingness to address the gender problem and the specious arguments that are presented by owner, staff and members.

<!--[if !supportEmptyParas]--> I see no problem in accommodating the current gender paradigm, the problem is the default assumptions of “son of” or “daughter of” or precluding a transwoman from listing her YDNA.

<!--[if !supportEmptyParas]--> All of his can be rectified, quite easily, by the owner with a slight modfication to the coding.

That is if they are of a mind to do so, provided that they are not transphobic or hiding behind some religious ideation. In other words they too are comfortable in their own skin.

This would be more than a "slight modification to the coding". Which is likely why nothing has been done yet -- it's not because the site is transphobic or uncomfortable with the subject. It's because resources are limited.

I do like Aria's idea about a field (fields?) separate from gender that allows an override to chromosome inheritance. I think that would be more accurate than having "birth gender" and "current gender" fields, which is what has been suggested in the past.

1 Answer

+8 votes
Best answer
I would handle that kind of situation by using the gender field for the current gender and explaining why some documents list the other gender in the biography section. It is my feeling that if we add fields for every situation we will run the risk of making the program too big and complicated for the average user. I have not seen any Genealogy program that has fields for transgender and at least until there is a proven need for it I feel we can already handle it when needed.
answered by Dale Byers G2G Astronaut (1.1m points)
selected by Abby Glann
In Sweden a registrationprogram  DISGEN 2016 has 4 genders: male, woman, unknown and undefinable.
It is possible to test the complete program free for 30 days. The program will not work well after that and be quite stopped after at least 45 days. (750 Swedish crones to have it for ever. Bigger updating may cost . )
If you want to see for yourself: - Verktyg - Disgen - Ladda ned Disgen

I mentioned this elsewhere but think it bears directly on your question.  Instead of treating gender as a once and done, treat it as something that varies over time; like marriages, jobs, residence, etc.  There are source documents that declare a gender at a specific point in time.  Sometimes there are differences.  

There are requests for a third gender to indicate not male or female.  I am all for addition additional options, but I think to really address this issue in a way that is inclusive, we need to reconsider the nature of gender.  

Genetic engineering is around the corner.  It may be a couple of years, or decades, but at some point it will be possible to create a new descendant by combining two eggs, no sperm involved.  Or create a new descendant through other gene manipulation techniques involving separate donors for each chromosome.  Doing that will require having more than two parents.  

It is an interesting time to be a genealogist, we have tools for going through massive amounts of data but we are not yet overwhelmed by the even more massive data to follow.
And at that time genealogy will be officially dead. Because genealogy tracks the passing down of genetics from parents to offspring. Once you create artificial humans there will be no natural genetics. At that point it will be genetic templates that artificial people are built from.

So personally I feel it is a sad time to be a genealogist because we will no longer have a function. It may become so extreme that there will in truth be no male or female and the only way to reproduce will be in the laboratory. One catastrophe and we will be gone forever.
You don't think there are a few billion people that will eschew the lab and do it the old-fashioned way?   :)
In the distant future, I think a woman/man/undefined still wants to be
very close to another person. But I fear we have destroyed the environment and it will not be possible to give birth to a healthy child in the natural way.


Different peoples have different levels of comfort with exposing their gender status.  This is something that our society has not yet come to grips with.

As regards coding of wikitree. There really is no problem with a transwoman who has tested YDNA, to post that result on wikitree if they wish. 

This can easily be accommodated. Where there is a will there is a way. That is a fact, simply delink DNA from gender..easy peasy..done.

As regards bio references, a different story, bio's seem to be set in stone, unless subsequently modified, provided the party concerned has the need or presence of mind.

Then again the default can be modfied, instead of having the default under sources  read

  The events of James Jone's life were either witnessed by James Jones or James plans to add sources here later.

Simply eliminate this default , which makes sense because James Jones could not possibly have witnessed an event that took place before he was born.

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