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Gender in Roleplays


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Do you care about genders in roleplay?  

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So I know this can be a sensitive topic for a lot of people so I want to be clear that this isn't here to offend anyone I want to see honest opinions on how it's treated and whatnot and how you feel about the ways it's been treated.

 

So there are plenty of ways out there that gender is in roleplay I've seen many a SJW rant about fairness and all that however I don't know, personally, what is the most acceptable thing now. For the most part I know that people identify with one gender or the other or completely opt out of gender (which I think is non-binary)  which makes things easy, you have male, female and non-binary. However I'm not sure that it would work all the way.

 

I've seen gender switched to Gender Pronouns, She/Her, He/Him, They/Them which I think is helpful I guess but I don't know if it is the appropriate way or if there even is one.

 

So questions are what do you do about gender in your roleplay or how do you like to see gender displayed in roleplay?

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I think what a writer must ask themselves is what attracts them to a character in the first place? (This is mainly in regards to canon characters, rather than OCs, because OCs are another matter entirely.) I think a good place to start would be Star Trek, particularly the Next Generation, Deep Space Nine and Voyager series and I would like to say that what makes me drawn to a character is if it is well written, if the actor who plays them plays them wonderfully and of course, liking the concept of the character. I choose Star Trek as an example because I think the writers, actors and producers took a character and portrayed them is such a way that you don't see the gender of the character (or their race, religion, etc) and just see a person, and this is what the aim of a writer should be whenever they write a character - your goal is to get the reader or viewer in what ever medium it is to understand a character enough so that what is a prejudice in society melts away. The unfairness in rp (as in real life) is that people are stereotyped into male and female in terms of fashion, behavour and interests and once you realise that trying to categorise people that way is false, and just let people be who they are that it takes away the unfairness. In that sense, I don't think it maters.

 

I chose other for the second question as I do not like the they/them/non-binary concept because it only reinforces the ideas that men and women should follow the stereotypes pushed on to them by society and if they chose to be different from what culture or marketers say that they should be, then they are classed as other and it denies them the right to be a man or a woman. (I say that because I've seen some people say if a person dresses like a man, treat them like a man, if they dress like a woman, treat them like a woman - that doesn't take into consideration that a woman (for instance) may think of herself as a woman, but hate dresses and make-up.) I cannot comment on the feelings that transgender people have of being in the wrong body as I do not know what that feels like, but it would help a lot if the stereotypes and assumptions were dropped and people allowed to do as they wish. I also answered other because some people who use they/them/non-binary labels can push the SJW stuff on to a community and cause a rift in it.

Anonymous poster hash: da9d9...e98

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I think the "right" way to do it is to let people input the gender or pronouns themselves. In my experience, this has garnered the least amount of upset. However, the way that is reacted to ICly is another matter entirely and depending on the kind of community you have/want/are geared towards you (general you) might want to consider adding in additional rules or some such.

 

For example, if my character is meeting someone who is anatomically male but  this person identifies as female yet does not present as such- then my character is probably going to think of/refer to them as a male because they simply don't know these personal matters about the other character. That can be cause for upset with some individuals, though that's of course not the intention. I personally view knowing any of a character's preferences which have not been explicitly stated or otherwise made blatantly obvious ICly as metagaming, and I do not want to metagame. It might also be that I have a character that simply does not care about a person's preferences even if they're aware of them, and since I am telling a story from the perspective of my character it's very possible those wishes will not be honored by said character.

 

However, that way of playing could be very upsetting to some people. If it is important to the community that a character be referred to by their preferred pronouns even in internal monologue or without a character meeting them for the first time knowing them, then that should be stated somewhere.

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For this @Anonymous I'm more looking to see what, if any sort of notification should I put on user profiles for character accounts regarding gender, or just nix it entirely. I totally understand the gender stereo types. At home my children love to remind me that I'm "Mom/Dad" because I'm a single mother and I take the roles for both parents. Even before I got divorced I did everything that was typically a "male" related thing. I fixed things, I moved heavy objects I got my hands greasy in the car etc.

 

I'm not at all trying to put people in any gender stereotypes at all. This is more meant for gender identification in roleplays. If someone has a character has female parts but wants to be called a male that's totally fine with me. I don't care. I have a character that is a bro but she loves being a woman so she is female even though she acts like most men, for example.

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1 minute ago, Morrigan said:

For this @Anonymous I'm more looking to see what, if any sort of notification should I put on user profiles for character accounts regarding gender, or just nix it entirely.

And another thought just occurred to me now after reading this: you could get rid of it entirely. Authors are going to be writing characters with the character's preferred pronouns, in most cases. It still leaves things open for the way I RP things as well, since that's based more on how the character looks and not at all on what's inside their noggin'.

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For me gender isn't a huge issue as far as roleplay, however, it really, really depends on the setting. Take a historical roleplay set in the 16th century. Non-binary gender types (androgyne, agender, neutrois) were not known in these centuries like we know of them now. They would have either been suppressed or considered transgendered, homosexual or the like. Transgender in the true sense of it (females feeling or acting male, males feeling and acting female and assigned their sex as a gender) was however something that was know, there are historical references to them in Native American culture, Asian and European. Grecian history is full of references. I am very big on historical relevance when it comes to historical RP, it should make sense for the times and setting. In a modern RP it makes sense to have an outwardly non-binary character because we now know of them. Medieval England? Not so much. 

 

Edited to added:

I think in regards to RPing with someone communication is the key. Ask your partner what they would prefer, if you're both happy with it then go for it. 

Edited by jenneral_jennson
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I never really considered it an issue until I saw a thread about it on another directory site, about making your forum trans-friendly and it raised points such as using "other" isn't always great because it makes them (the thread author) feel like they are an inconvenience, like they don't fit in. I felt sad to know that my not considering this could have hurt people and so now in sign up apps I make and user profiles on my sites we use pronouns.

 

I know that a lot of RP sites like to do population demographics and typically they break it up by gender but after initially struggling to think of alternatives I now do them usually based on rank/job/age/alignment, basically whichever fits into my RP

 

I know that my choices for my sites aren't necessarily going to be great and as a cisgender person I cannot hope to understand the emotions felt by those who are trans but I do try to do as much as I can to make my site safe for them, I also welcome criticism and feedback so that I can improve. 

 

(sorry for the rambling on!)

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I'm sure this comes as no shock, but I don't agree with there being like 56 genders. At most there are 3. (Male, Female, Androgynous/Inter.) These 3 are derived from our base sex. 

-  There isn't really an agender, it's more a sliding scale of how masculine/feminine one feels. (With the middle being not particular male or female. Beyond that middle it's still either Male or Female just in varying degrees. EX- strongly male, weakly male, weakly female, strongly female.)

- Cisgender is not a gender either really, it's a descriptor used to say biological sex and gender match up. 

- Transgender is also not a gender either, it's a description of a temporary state related to gender. Contrasts with cisgender in that biology and gender do not match up. (Essentially a transgender person is in the process of switching from one end to the other on said spectrum.) So they're still either Male or Female essentially... (Just moving to one or the other.)

- Genderfluid is also not a gender, like transgender, it's a description of a person who is changing theirs. (Though it's more rapid and much less permanent. Admittedly I also take issues with genderfluid because of how it cheapens the struggles transgender people face to be taken seriously. Plus it very often seems to be just a cry for attention. )

Spoiler

There's only ever one person I've seen use the term genderfluid about themselves seriously and of course they are a prototypical social justice warrior. I recall them bragging about how they got their co-workers to engage in their genderfluid shenanigans. Though the whole time I couldn't help but think... "Yeah they're only going along with this because if they didn't someone would be running right to the Human Resources department with cries of discrimination. And they don't want to be unemployed because someone got their knickers in a knot."

- Gender queer/variant/non-conforming are, again, more descriptors of gender and not actual genders themselves. I mean one could be female but be non-conforming in some ways (ex- enjoys hobbies more associated with men) but that does not negate or impact actual femininity/female identity.

 

If you want to know what it's like being transgender, I've heard it spoken about like this... you're dropped in a city in another country (that doesn't have an embassy to your home country) all by yourself with no money. So even though you might speak the same language you have no way to get home. Until you can get home, no one knows who you are and you have to make do living as someone else. You pretend to be someone else so you can get by. You make all kinds of connections that are all based on lies, you smile and pretend as people think they know you. And each time you have to engage this lie you feel a deep twinge of sadness and regret. 

 

 

So now with all that out of the way... Do I care about gender in roleplay? Nope. I don't consider it for the most part. I mean my characters are often robots so gender tends to mean little to them. They could go to a repair station and switch that. 

 

For representation: male (he/him), female (she/her), all others (them/they). I refuse to use any other crazy pronoun someone wants to come up with. If you want gyrself or whatever... then mine are apache-attack-helicopter, apache-attack-helicopterself.

 

Edited by VirusZero
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I'm of the opinion that it shouldn't matter. 

 

Allow me to clarify.

 

In the end, the gender of your character should have no impact beyond cultural impact. If you are playing a man in a woman dominated society, you're going to be treated differently. If you are playing a transwoman in a situation when being trans is frowned upon, that is going to affect the gameplay. That isn't what I'm talking about, that is an entirely different topic to an extent as that will vary from board to board.

 

BUT. Your gender, your characters' gender, etc should not matter in the grand scheme of things. I feel having a spot for pronouns is near pointless because we are reading. We aren't running up to these people on the street. We can easily look at their post and see "Oh, this person looks like a dude, but they call them 'she' so I guess that's what I write.' Bam. Problem solved. Or, god forbid, you ask if you're confused.

 

But I've also spent a lot of time mistaken for a man IRL and online. Its easier when you can laugh it off and go on with life. I understand it isn't as easy for some people to do this, but its the internet. People are always going to be assholes and there is no way to make it easy on everything.

 

That and I've never seen a nonbinary section of gender actually used on a board. CW has a couple trans characters and I've never had a problem with people rolling them. Nor in the 10+ years I've ran RP things on a variety of mediums have I ever had anyone actually ASK me about nonbinary characters. I've had a couple random guests ask about trans characters in, what I can assume, is a shock attempt (as they left immediately after we gave the 'Sure, whatever' response.) I'm of the opinion that its a problem that is blown way out of proportion and isn't as big of a deal as some people would like to make it.

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I use the pronouns field. If there are characters that are passing as a different gender, they can clarify that in their profile.

 

2 hours ago, Rune said:

I feel having a spot for pronouns is near pointless because we are reading.

 

(...)

 

I've never seen a nonbinary section of gender actually used on a board.

 

There's a couple of characters on my forum that are gender neutral. So y'know, it's a thing that happens.

 

Also, the pronouns on my forum are used on the memberslist, I hope that prospective members see that and the different pronouns and think, maybe I won't face censure on this forum.

 

Basically, just put a field somewhere and let people fill it in anyway they feel is appropriate for their character. Or as GR said, get rid of it entirely. The writer will clarify it in their profile anyway.

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49 minutes ago, Kit the Human said:

There's a couple of characters on my forum that are gender neutral. So y'know, it's a thing that happens.

 

I'm not Rune, but I don't think she was trying to imply that it doesn't happen. To me she was questioning the relevance of it considering we are reading what is written so we already know what pronoun is preferred. Doing away with the option is probably the best strategy all together to be honest.

 

I don't know about anyone else but I tend to write a bit realistically. In the real world if someone looks like a woman, they are generally spoken to by their gender pronoun, she/her, until they explain to the person they are speaking to they prefer he/him. I write like that. I'm more inclined (its a little unconsciously) to write a character speaking with those pronouns until their speaking partner explains to them what they prefer. You do not know what pronoun a person prefers just by looking at them.

 

And again communication with your writing partner is the key. Though, with it and the reading aspect, I don't really understand the necessity of having a box to check for gender.  

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She literally said: " That and I've never seen a nonbinary section of gender actually used on a board. " I was saying nah, I've seen it happen on boards so it does happen, never fear. 

 

I assume the rest of your post wasn't directed at me because I explained why I have the field (for the memberlist) and then went onto say, you could also just not have it because the writer will explain if they pass as a different gender. (Or they should anyway, because as you say, communication.)

 

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Much like @Rune, gender pronouns don't change the way I see or write with characters, never mind their players. OOCly, It's an element of the character that helps make it exist, etc.

 

I don't know a stranger's preferences unless they explain it in an intro or pm or casual conversations and what have you. I don't go asking because it's not my business, and I don't ask about a character's identity unless there is significant confusion in the threads.

 

On that note, I always find it rude, and unfair, to criticise and shame a rp partner/anyone-else for misgendering... when there's zero information available, or the writer refuses to share what  they prefer but feel obligated to judge you for still not knowing. wtf, mate. Who can read minds?

 

I would leave it up to the players to introduce themselves as they see fit; in second hand experience, a board that listed specific pronouns usually led to drama--- the kind seen on tumblr. ''what? you haven't listed xe?? TRAAANSPHOOOOOOOOOBE!!!''

Edited by Archaic Cyborg
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So, I answered the poll that I feel gender is important. It's an aspect of the character, and until we (as readers/players) live in a society where gender does not affect our social standing, the way we're treated, the way we're paid, etc... then our view of gender in RP is going to be painted by that, even if the setting is one where gender does not affect those things. All that said, I run my trek game like Star Trek should be: gender doesn't affect your standing within the Federation (outside of it, well, it depends on what culture we're interacting with).

 

I believe that gender is a complex thing: there's the reality of one's biological body, there's the reality of one's self identity, and then there's one's expression. The three are variables in a more complex matrix. For example, someone could be born with biological traits that are identified as male, but come to self identify as female, all the while moving between the two in expression depending on safety, comfort, and any number of other variables. That's a pretty over simplified explanation, but for further reading, I point you at the Genderbead Person 2.0: http://itspronouncedmetrosexual.com/2012/03/the-genderbread-person-v2-0/ (Edit to add, there is a v3 now: http://itspronouncedmetrosexual.com/2015/03/the-genderbread-person-v3/)


In my game, I have a field where the player can fill in whatever gender label they wish to use. Most people who are cis-gendered don't even give it a second thought and input male or female without any issue. Everyone else can put in whatever they feel best matches their character's self-identity. I don't see the need to put pronoun fields on a bio because our bio form is involved enough that one is going to refer to their character by a pronoun at one point or another, so it should be pretty clear what the character's preferred pronouns are.

 

I've been happy that my crew has been pretty much issue free since I implemented the open field in the bio form, replacing the drop down form that's default for the Nova CMS. Honestly, the only problem I've had involving gender is when my XO gets worried that we have too many female characters running around and he obsessively counts to make sure that we're "evenly" split between male and female plot NPCs >.< Since I hold the veto power, I usually just decide if gender is going to actually matter to the character (most of the time, no), and if the character is important enough to put my foot down over (having veto power as CO is a thing, and I don't hesitate to use it). I would like to see more characters outside of the cis-binary on my game, but the closest I come to writing that myself are my andorian characters (we use the soft-canon quad genders for andorians), and we have one trans-gendered character on my crew as an npc of one of my players.

 

Edited by Death Kitten
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