Types, controls, and functions for expressing the gender identities of human beings
Swift C++
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README.md

GenderKit

GenderKit is a set of types, controls, and functions for working with the genders of users and other human beings. It seeks to make working correctly with genders as simple, straightforward, and type-safe as possible.

It includes the following components:

  • A Gender enum for expressing user genders.
  • A PronounSet type and a set of helper functions to help you generate grammatical, user-tailored, friendly user interface text in English.
  • A GenderField control that allows the user to choose their gender.

GenderKit supports non-binary genders with arbitrary, user-specified names and pronoun sets. It attempts to make supporting less common gender identities just as easy as working with the ones everybody is familiar with. But even if nobody ever uses that support in your app, you'll benefit from GenderKit's handy pronoun helpers and pre-built user interface controls.

GenderKit is written in Swift and heavily uses Swift-specific features. It currently supports only iOS, but AppKit versions of GenderField and associated UI could probably be added without too much difficulty.

GenderKit is currently prerelease software, and is not yet production-ready.

The Gender type

The Gender type represents a user's gender. Gender is not the same as biological sex; it encompasses how a person sees themself and wants to be perceived by others. Outside of medicine, gender is almost always the relevant variable to capture.

Gender is an enum with three cases: Male, Female, and Other. Each Gender has a description—a name such as "Male" or "Female"—and a set of pronouns appropriate to that gender. The Other case includes the description and pronouns as associated values, allowing you to express each person's preferred gender identity.

Gender conforms to Equatable; Other genders are considered equal if their descriptions are equal. It does not conform to Comparable. If you need to group people by gender, I recommend sorting on their Gender.description property.

Gender conforms to RawRepresentable, converting to and from String. Male and Female are represented as the strings "M" and "F"; Other is represented by a string beginning with "O", followed by the description, a pipe character as a separator, and JSON data representing the person's preferred pronouns. This representation is designed to make it relatively easy to work with a gender's raw representation on platforms where GenderKit is not available.

Pronoun support

Each Gender has an associated PronounSet. The PronounSet encompasses four pronouns for different situations: subject, object, possessiveDeterminer, and determiner.

You probably don't know what those terms mean, and neither does anyone else, so GenderKit includes a set of helper functions that make it easy to construct a sentence with pronouns:

"\(They(user.gender.pronouns)) let me go to \(their(user.gender.pronouns)) house."

There are eight helper functions of this sort: They, they, Them, them, Their, their, Theirs, and theirs. The versions with initial caps should be used at the beginning of a sentence; the all-lowercase ones should be used elsewhere. Although these functions are named with the often-plural "they" set of pronouns, they should be treated as singular. (There are certain ambiguities in both the "he" and "she" pronouns that prevent their use for this task.)

These helper methods take an instance conforming to the PronounReferable protocol. Gender conforms to PronounReferable, so you can just specify a Gender instance instead of a PronounSet:

"\(They(user.gender)) let me go to \(their(user.gender)) house."

You can also make your own model objects conform to PronounReferable by adding a pronouns property. This allows you to construct text in a very readable way:

"\(They(user)) let me go to \(their(user)) house."

Pronoun sets can only do so much: they can't adjust the pluralization or grammar of other parts of the sentence or express novel pronoun grammar that's too dissimilar from standard pronouns. They can express always-lowercase pronouns but not always-uppercase ones. They are not designed to express the semantics of languages other than English.

GenderField

GenderKit includes a GenderField to permit users to specify their gender.

The GenderField is shown as a segmented control with three options: "Male", "Female", and "Other". Choosing "Other" will display a screen (in a popover on iPad or a modal dialog on iPhone) that allows the user to specify their gender description and preferred pronouns.

Once this screen is dismissed, the "Other" button's label changes to their gender's description. They can tap the button again to further edit it.

The user's chosen gender may be found in the field's selectedGender property. GenderField is a subclass of UIControl, and uses the usual target-action mechanisms to inform you of edits.

Contributing

Contributions are welcome, and should be submitted through the GenderKit GitHub project. I will not accept requests to remove support for non-binary genders. If you want to do that, fork the project. (Suggestions for improving that support, on the other hand, are perfectly welcome.)

If you are a non-programmer and don't have a GitHub account, please send comments to the email address listed below.

Author

Brent Royal-Gordon, Architechies <brent@architechies.com>. If you use this framework in one of your own projects, I would love to hear from you.

If I'm doing something wrong, please be patient with me—write to me and I'll see what I can do. I'm a cis guy with limited exposure to non-binary people; I consider this project to be both an interesting engineering challenge and an opportunity to make it so easy to support a wider spectrum of gender identities that developers won't have an excuse not to.

Copyright

(C) 2014 Architechies. Distributed under the MIT License.

Permission is hereby granted, free of charge, to any person obtaining a copy of this software and associated documentation files (the "Software"), to deal in the Software without restriction, including without limitation the rights to use, copy, modify, merge, publish, distribute, sublicense, and/or sell copies of the Software, and to permit persons to whom the Software is furnished to do so, subject to the following conditions:

The above copyright notice and this permission notice shall be included in all copies or substantial portions of the Software.

THE SOFTWARE IS PROVIDED "AS IS", WITHOUT WARRANTY OF ANY KIND, EXPRESS OR IMPLIED, INCLUDING BUT NOT LIMITED TO THE WARRANTIES OF MERCHANTABILITY, FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE AND NONINFRINGEMENT. IN NO EVENT SHALL THE AUTHORS OR COPYRIGHT HOLDERS BE LIABLE FOR ANY CLAIM, DAMAGES OR OTHER LIABILITY, WHETHER IN AN ACTION OF CONTRACT, TORT OR OTHERWISE, ARISING FROM, OUT OF OR IN CONNECTION WITH THE SOFTWARE OR THE USE OR OTHER DEALINGS IN THE SOFTWARE.