The Instigator
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The Contender
Con (against)
2 Points

Should documents, in general, expand their "select gender" options?

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 9/28/2013 Category: Society
Updated: 3 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 799 times Debate No: 38220
Debate Rounds (4)
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Votes (1)




I am looking for a friendly debate so I can see both sides of the issue.

We live in a binarist society, which means people are grouped into the rigid, distinct, categories of man and woman. However, some folks exist who are neither, such as intersex, genderqueer, and non-binary identifying people.

When it comes to filling out documents, be it surveys or job applications, a problem is posed for such people: They must check either a "male" or "female" box when neither applies to them.

I believe that our society should start recognizing them, and this is one of the ways we can fix one of the problems they face. I know, however, that some might be opposed to this. This is why I am debating, to get my point of view across and examine the points of the other side.

No arguments with a religious bias, please.


First I would like to thank my opponent for selecting a relevant topic in our times. I look forward to a respectful debate.

"It is what it is" is a common saying in the USA, generally meaning that things are the way they are, and you might as well accept that. It is significant to the issue of binary gender identification because, with exceedingly rare exception, gender is a binary issue at birth.

You are either male, or female.

I am a white man. I was born a white man. On all documents I identify myself as a white (non-Hispanic) person. There is no reason I should be allowed, or desire, to identify otherwise, since to do so would be false.

There is no need to expand the Gender categories on official documents.
Debate Round No. 1


Whether documents should expand their options really depends on whether you're referring to biological sex or gender identity. Biological sex is an anatomical fact that cannot be changed, consisting male, female, and sometimes intersex. Gender identity, however, is a social and cultural construct of man, woman, or other identities. Usually one's gender identity matches the expectations of people with their sexual anatomy.

One's sex depends on anatomy, and I can only imagine this would need to be asked on medical documents or athletic applications. The options, ideally, would be male, female, and intersex. Intersexuality is the exception to the binary rule, and it refers to a wide range of conditions that do not fit the standard of male or female. It is not, as you said, "exceedingly rare." In fact, 1 in 100 births have bodies differing from the anatomical definition of male of female.[1] (Believe me, it surprised me too, but the reason it seems exceedingly rare is simple: you don't know the anatomy of people you meet each day.) Even if intersex folks are somewhat of a minority, there is no reason they should not have official representation and an option to choose.

Usually, though, documents mean to ask one's gender, whether that person is known as a man or a woman, rather than inquire about what's in that person's pants. This is not a medical issue, but a cultural and social one. Ideally, such forms would list the options "man, woman, or other," as some people do not feel they belong within the cultural definitions, expectations, and/or norms of man or woman and prefer to be known as such. Not having an "other" option would pose a problem for non-binary people, as they would be forced to choose an option that does not fit them. Not all physically male people identify as men--even though there is no denying that they are biologically male, it does not necessarily mean they each identify as a man. Plenty of intersex people identify within the binary of man or woman. As everyone's internal sense of gender is subjective, it can only be respected and left unjudged, and it is certainly not the position of official documents to deny the gender one lives and identifies as.



Your statistics would be more convincing if they did not come from an intersex advocacy group with a vested interest in inflating the numbers. They count as "intersex" males whose urethra happens to present pretty much anywhere but on the tip of the penis. So they are counted if the urethra (pee-hole, for the uninitiated) is on the shaft of their penis.

A statistic from a credible source like the US National Library of Medicine at the National Institutes of Health, which puts the number at 0.018%[1] (an exceedingly rare percentage if I do say so myself) is a little more believable.

Debate Round No. 2


Thanks for the correction. As for your argument, though, your link insists that Klinefelter syndrome (XXY chromosomes) and Turner's syndrome (single X chromosome) are not intersex, which I do not agree with. Neither fit the medical definition of male or female. To quote the same article, "If the term intersex is to retain any meaning, the term should be restricted to those conditions in which chromosomal sex is inconsistent with phenotypic sex, or in which the phenotype is not classifiable as either male or female." Both syndromes fit. Otherwise, thank you for the correction.

Still, that's not refuting my point. Even if intersex people are an "exceedingly rare" minority, there should be an option for them to choose on documents asking for physical sex (a question that would most likely only appear on medical documents and perhaps athletic applications). Likewise, intersex people should be able to select "man" or "woman" when asked for gender if they identify within the gender binary.

Additionally, non-binary identifying people who are physically male or female should be able to select the gender they identify and live as. To say that a male-bodied person who identifies outside of the gender binary is non-binary gendered would not be false. To say that this person belongs in the social construct of "man" would be false.


First, Australian Aborigines are exceedingly rare in the United States, and therefore, there is no box for them to check on nearly any official form under "race". We cannot expand documents beyond reason to include the rarest of minorities.

The answer is simpler. Do not expand the field, but compress it where necessary by leaving a blank to fill in instead of boxes, and eliminate the field on documents where it is not actually necessary.
Debate Round No. 3


Hey, that's a good idea!

What I meant by the question was a different selection of options than male and female. Listing all possible identities would be exhaustive. My idea was "man, woman, and other," but that also works! Or just do away with the question--why would one need to know?

Also, for the race question, there is an "Other" option on racial surveys, so a similar option would make sense on documents asking for gender or sex.


The topic of this debate was "Should documents, in general, expand their "select gender" options?".

My opponent has conceded that it is a great idea to rather compress or even eliminate this field.

I thank my opponent for an interesting and respectful debate.
Debate Round No. 4
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1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by miketheman1200 3 years ago
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Total points awarded:32 
Reasons for voting decision: The aboriginary argument made by con is not true. They would fill out "other" there is no "other" for sex options on most official documents and pro makes a good case that these people should be represented equally along side regular sex people. Sources to Con because Pros were biased.