Gender zero

Someone wrote…

I came out to my new health insurance company on the phone last week in a moment of frustration. This morning I got a letter from them that I could feel had a new membership ID card in it, and I thought “Good lord… why did they send me a new card, AGAIN?” I was going to throw it away like the others but then I checked it over. Record number: Fine. Name: Fine. Birthday: Fine. Gender: “O”… Wait.

According to my health insurer my gender is “O.”

What’s your experience?

And what are you thinking about gender right now?

Posted by on June 2nd, 2010 at 08:00 am

Category: your voice 24 comments »

24 Responses to “Gender zero”

  1. Mo

    That’s fascinating. I work for Health Insurance and have for quite a few years. Most software doesn’t even have a non-binary option. It’s probably O for “other”, but at least it’s not a forced dichotomy. Hopefully someday it will either be wider choices or a free-text field.


  2. Anonymous

    I think that’s probably a step in the right direction. My boyfriend is a med student, and the school had a panel discussion with LGBTQ doctors and patients about queer health care issues, and I found it interesting how the field is having a hell of a time adapting. For some reason, though more education generally means more social liberality, medicine is very much a conservative field. His med school did not even have a LGBTQ/Allies organization until THIS YEAR!


  3. Nick

    Super awesome! I’m assuming you told them that you were non-binary?

    About ‘o’ for other.. personally, I prefer the gender catagory ‘other’ on documents over more specific gender catagories because I hate the idea of making a non-binary gender about creating new boxes. ‘Other’ ephasizes unlimited diversity and is therefore awesome.


  4. Jessica

    Maybe “O” stands for Ostrich. Think of all those fluffy feathers.

    Or perhaps Ontological-paradox.

    Other choices that occur:
    * Original
    * Oligomorphic – an organism that goes through changes in
    form during its lifetime
    * Optimum – defined medically as “the condition most
    conducive to function, growth and development”


  5. kendall

    I like other, because its easier for me saying: both and neither…at the same time…and seperately


  6. Lexi

    I agree with Nick. People who take offense at use of ‘other’ fruustrate me – I’d be glad to hear a counter opinion, but it seems that it is the most simple option for us that needs least explanation, and if we dither among ourselves then what chance do the cisgenders have?


  7. Lyn Aven

    @kendall: “Both and neither at the same time and separately”? Sounds like me. *is CURRENTLY male, time will tell what he is tomorrow*


  8. Taylor Trash

    I like “O”, I think I’m going to start using that from now on. Thanks for sharing, this was a really cool story.


  9. Kim

    Interesting. “Other” seems like it might actually be a comfortable box to tick on a form. The binary options often make me nauseous, and further labels are just inaccurate to describe my fluidity. I do like “oligomorphic”, though…


  10. Mark

    Maybe it means “Omitted”


  11. Shay

    Hey, not bad.


  12. kendall

    @7 I tried on prom dresses today to feel a “maybe” and all I got was “hell no” I approached women’s fashion with an open mind, on my own terms to see what makes me tick, and its becoming more and more clear that I am not a pretty pretty princess


  13. Sna

    Really, we should just not have a gender tickbox, rather than thinking of new things to put in it :)

    What’s the point of a gender tickbox ? Sex might matter for medical purposes (I don’t know, maybe it doesn’t) but gender ? The only real purpose of having binary gender separation is as a means to enforce patriarchy (for patriarchy to remain in place, men must men and women must be women).

    Adding an ‘Other’ option does not solve this – it does not challenge the power relationships within society, if anything it creates a new one : being a man is seen as the default, neutral position. Everything else is an add-on, a decoration, an impurity. By ticking the ‘O’ gender you’re not saying what you are, you are just saying you are not a man.

    We shouldn’t struggle for the right to define our gender differently, we should struggle for the right not to define our gender.


  14. Jessica

    In 99% of the non-medical cases, gender is like zip code, a datum that is used for demographic differentiation. Companies analyze the browsing/buying data and track the changes in results against changes they make in their business.

    I don’t like being used to manipulate me better, so I usually fill in things as M, born in 1903 from Kursk. When available, I fill in race as Homo Sapiens.


  15. A

    Oh my god, I love this. Yay for non-binary health cards! I wish my ID didn’t all say “female”.


  16. Jessica

    Let’s add to the demographic:
    * M – mostly male
    * F – fairly female
    * O – Oligomorphic (see above)
    * V – variable
    * U – uncertain
    * D – depends on circumstance
    * B – bigendered


  17. Jay

    Oligomorphic is a great word! *g* And cheers to that health insurer! It reminds me that during the Swine Flu panic, the form you had to fill out to get the vaccine (my father filled it out, I just got the flu instead of a shot, but he was high-risk). It had for Sex/Gender (don’t recall which it called it): male/female/other. Which was kinda awesome.


  18. Astra

    … This makes me smile so much.


  19. Sean

    I’m surprised no one asked this already.. What kind of health insurance do you have? If it’s Humana I’m totally going to call them!


  20. omelu

    …I absolutely love this. If my insurance gave me that option I might just come out.

    …what can we do about getting this O to be everywhere? particularly just as a letter without explaining what it stands for, though several of the suggestions are cool. But just “O” really leaves it open.


  21. sim

    Every time I get the “M / F” option where you have to circle either “M” or “F,” I circle the slash.


  22. Ark

    Honestly, I’m okay with my birth certificate having an “F.” You can’t get it changed in this state anyway.

    But I would like my driver’s license to have an “M” and any other documents to have either an “M” or an “O.” Yeah, I’ll run into people who freak when my papers don’t match, but whatever. I’m not the only person to have dealt with that, and I won’t be a quiet one either.

    The “F” is already effing wrong to begin with. I don’t even LOOK female, ANYWHERE. The lovely situation of an intersexed person who actually ID’s with their body! FUN! *sigh*


  23. Jessica

    @Ark Birth certificates regularly contain errors. If someone remarks about it, just claim it was an error. A surprisingly large proportion of “M” babies get an “F” because they’re not fully presenting their “M” tackle at birth.


  24. Tualha

    “O”MG, that’s “O”wsome!


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