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Provide gender choices that respect identity

The job of an automator is often to make an existing court form more accessible and welcoming. Gender is a topic that is often not relevant on a form, and on forms that require it, paper forms are often restrictive.

We recommend:

  1. asking for gender using inclusive language
  2. providing information that lets the user understand the consequences of selecting an inclusive option that cannot be printed on the output document

The following gender options are ones that we researched and identified as striking a balance of inclusivity and representative of real-world forms in jurisdictions that have adopted inclusive language:

  • Female
  • Male
  • Nonbinary (note spelling which is the most accepted usage, without a hyphen)
  • Prefer to write something else
  • Prefer not to say
  • Unknown

We also recommend including this warning language if the form does not provide a place to write in an inclusive option:

Some forms require you to select either "Male" or "Female". If you do not select "Male" or "Female", your form may include an empty checkbox.

We intentionally avoid the use of the word other which is dehumanizing and not inclusive. However, some forms do use other, and it may be appropriate to use any option that is not Female or Male to check an Other box, depending on the use and value of requesting gender on the form.

For example: when identifying a respondent in an abuse protection order petition, using a gender description that matches the apparent gender of the respondent is something the petitioner should consider to aid police in serving the petition.

Fixing bad forms

We do not hesitate to edit forms that request gender in an unhelpful way when the same information could be provided in an inclusive way. We feel this reflects the user's options when working with a paper form.

For example:

  • we remove "he/she" checkboxes when the name of the petitioner or respondent could replace it.
  • we add a space for the user's self-described gender in other circumstances

Adding gender fields in Docassemble

- person.gender
id: gender
question: |
What is ${ person }'s gender?
- code: |