Recently, I bought printer toner online. Which I could not do without declaring my gender as either male or female. As someone who identifies as neither I bit my tongue and selected the gender I have been assigned at birth. Small act, still reeling about it months later. Because it is one of the many instances that makes people who identify as non-binary like me feel as if we do not exist. In their wonderful paper “Patching Gender: Non-binary Utopias in HCI” the authors give a wide range of examples of how computer systems — and the people who build them could to better to accomodate those who identify as non-binary.

I have encountered these systems not only as a user, but also one who develops them. A while ago, when tasked with the development of a tangible artefact to gather demographic data, I suggested a slider between male and female as a ‘playful’ means of expressing gender. Not a good solution, but at least a nod to something different and a more fluent understanding of gender. At that instance I have been told in direct terms that that does not make sense as people either identify as one or other and that there is no inbetween. At the time I complied I am sorry to say. I am responsible for a stupid male/female push button as I did not have the confidence to push further. It has taken me years to shake that voice out of my head and come to terms with my gender.

We need more computer systems to change. To do that the opinions of those who make computer systems will have to change. In that vain, I would like to publish a little zine with stories of how gender-normative computer systems have affected you, examples you have come across and even more so, your wishes on how you would like your gender represented in such systems. Please contact me on twitter under @brifrischu or send me an email at info[at]brifrischu{dot}de. Happy to publish your musings, drawings, texts, etc. with credit or anonymously as you prefer. The final zine will be sold in my etsy shop and shared through swaps etc. I will send three copies to each contributor automatically, if you leave me an address where to sent it to.

It is not our task to change the world that leaves us reeling. Others need to do this. But I am starting this project in the belief that sometimes people need a little push to do so.

I make zines & stuff. Design. Research.Dementia & Mental Health, Craft & Activism