Just the other day, I clicked to register online for a local event. Following the entries as to how many people for which I was registering, came questions of age, race and gender.
I get that stats are constantly being compiled for this n' that, and I get that this n' that is often a multi-nuanced gathering of positively skewed info posturing, when often the tabulation of who knows what is in the end financially founded, as are all things in this capitalistic land of ours.
The gender question was posited in long-form convolution:
"With which gender do you most identify?" rather than the old:
Are You Male ____ Female _____
The e-form proceeded to ask in leisurely fashion,
"With which race do you most identify?" rather than providing me with ye age olde series of skin-tone-denoting capital letters, which stood for words that are now nearly four-lettered in their touchiness.
Last but not least came the age question. Gently put, time-honored range configurations posted in nine-year increments granting the sideline gift of suggesting some number a few years off the one calculated-by-actual-birth year....
Gender: Fine and good if it is legally and socially a relative call, a personal mandate, a nuanced suggestion of self. Society morphs and with it so does its self-referencing vernacular.
I happen to be, for utter lack of knowing how to put it anymore, a bio-female - conceived as such, w/ corresponding, congruent body parts, species-furthering reproduction completed, not so big or tall but as tough as one twice my size, with less body and facial hair than, say, my burly, bearded firstborn son.... To that end, I say the word "Woman" should remain no biggie as an indicator. Ditto for the word "Man." It's brief; it requires no proof nor witness nor testament to permanence. Let's bear in mind, not a single solitary human ever always or only fully personifies either one of those terms 100% of the time....
If it is so irrelevant in the presentation of self, both legally and socially, as to mandate generalizations and suggestions on a registration form, I ask:
Why ask at all? If you can't give me an M or a W to tick and feel forced to ask for some relative, albeit heavily pondered conclusiveness, then give me a blank, full page and let me share something about my Self.
If you do ask, just be sure to have a valid reason for doing so.
Race: Fine and good if it is legally and socially a relative call, a personal mandate, a nuanced suggestion of self. Society morphs and with it so does its self-referencing vernacular.
I happen to be, for utter lack of knowing how else to put it anymore, a pasty-faced, smooth/light-haired, first generation American (as society now requires the fully unscientific/non-biological inclusion of country of origin to denote race). Can I then call myself an MPO1, or "Melting Pot Offspring, 1st generation/WEd (Western-Euro-descended) American?" That kinda covers things. If stat-gathering registering entities still need to know what vestigial remains of physical characteristics are evident to the extent that one chooses to lay claim to "just one," then ask for one and don't pussy foot around it.
Just be sure to have a valid reason for doing so.
Perhaps a few hundred thousand/million years ago, one might have been able to register for an event and used location to denote one's genetic predominance. Today, all physical attributes aside - obvious or indistinguishable - how we live and how we do what we do provide the cultural demographic explanation better than any pointer founded on what was once a series of pre-packaged features as collected in one human. If you can't give me a W or a C or an N to tick and feel forced ask for some relative, albeit heavily pondered conclusiveness, give me a blank, full page and let me share something about my Self.
Age: In this day and age, most living human (Americans, especially) are minor miracles of medicine and meds. Age as a numerically noted sum of health and physical/mental condition is perhaps the most relative of them all. Look at us. Compare us. If we must be as obtuse on so-called gender and so-called race as we are now, if consistent, we need also to be asked our "Age" in this way:
"With which age do you most identify?"
If forms and surveys can no longer ask for simple digits or capitalized consonant labels, give us registrants something illustrative and reflective to tick, like...
_____ Young, feeling great; thank you for asking.
_____ Old, not so great; thank you for asking.
If registering entities still really, truly need to know how old I am, just let me put my numeric, date-of-birth-calculated age on the line. No biggie.
Just be sure to have a valid reason for doing so.
Brevity can still be valid and non-controversial. I believe multi-syllabic convolution of terms and definitions in this ultra-quick-click, tech-based sound byte society of ours are tedious and indicative of trepidation where there should be none.
After registering for the event, I registered my opinion to those supplemental, semi-statistical Qs. I left them blank.