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We've discussed this on Slack before, but I'd like to see it implemented sooner rather than later, especially with the cultural importance placed on this topic in recent years.

We have a field gender in our {{Person}} and {{Deity}} infofoxes, but we currently use "Male", "Female", and "Sexless" for values. These are properly terms to describe one's biological sex. While one might argue that gender and sex used to be synonymous in language, they certainly are not in today's world, and they actually never have been in the Realms. (More on that below.)

Similarly, we have Category:Inhabitants by gender, which should really be Category:Inhabitants by biological sex.

I don't want to make this overly complicated; I don't think we need to use anachronistic/modern terms like "gender nonconforming" or such, but I think that we should at least split sex and gender.

Here is what I propose:

Here are some examples to emphasize the need for this, even if we didn't live in the culture that we do today: In the case of many creatures, such as beholders, mind flayers, or various living constructs, they are explicitly described as having no biological sex. They are asexual creatures. Even so, many—but not all—have picked a masculine or feminine gender and use masculine and feminine pronouns.

Another category of creature are sexless in reality, but can chose to have sexual organs and to take on gender roles. This includes doppelgangers and most fiends, celestials, and deities. For example, Pistis Sophia is sexless but feminine. Corellon is sexless and masculine or sometimes androgynous. Most such creatures are technically sexless but can take on a sex to mate with a mortal to produce offspring.

The third case is for mortals who are gender non-conforming. I know that 5th-edition has added a few such characters. These characters would likely have "Sex: Unknown" and "Gender: Neither" in their infobox. I expect WotC to add more such figures in the future as it seeks to increase the diversity presented in its worlds.

I know that this can be a sensitive or controversial topic for some, but I think that it does not need to be more complicated than I describe above, and most of the changes could be accomplished by bot or with simple template changes.

~ Lhynard (talk) 20:30, August 17, 2019 (UTC)

That seems like a workable solution to me.
Moviesign (talk) 23:37, August 17, 2019 (UTC)

Good idea and reasonable solution. Support 👍
Regis87 (talk) 23:54, August 17, 2019 (UTC)

I fully endorse this idea!
Ruf (talk) 11:34, August 18, 2019 (UTC)

I agree with the need to revise this way. Regardless of views on the issues, it helps to distinguish some characters and it is the convention of 5th edition going forward and the readers and player-base nowadays. Certainly we should get it done before it becomes a drama. As long as it stays simple, fantasy-world-friendly, and doesn't get political, it's all good.

Is "Sexless" right? This seems like it would be for beings with no sex (constructs, slimes, some non-humanoid undead, etc.), not beings who are intersex or fluid-sexed.

I've no objections, but there may be some issues:

  • Older Sources: Older books used sex and gender interchangeably, or gender as a polite alternative to sex, as was the norm for English language in general prior to this century/decade. Any policy on this should counsel editors not to assume modern definitions on older language.
  • Assumptions: A lot of NPCs appear with just an 'm' or 'f' in a statblock, no pronouns or gender implied if they don't get detailed. And in every case, they're assumed to be masculine or feminine. On the other hand, we haven't seen down most characters' pants, but have assumed a man is a male and a woman a female. I propose we should continue to make those assumptions, unless there is evidence otherwise. It would be too hard to recheck a load of sources for clues and to rephrase a lot of articles in gender-neutral ways and it's not for us to apply a certain spin on them, nor to remove one. We can safely assume authorial intent is that a male is a man and a female a woman unless there is evidence otherwise. The alternatives should only arise when they're made clear. Can the Gender: Masculine/Feminine infobox & category entries be automatically set by the Sex: Male/Female entry unless it's set otherwise? This could save on updating thousands of Person articles.
  • Older Characters: Transgender and gender non-conforming characters may not have started with 5th edition. Characters who could qualify have appeared in older editions, but writers were more subtle about putting them out, or we didn't have the precise language or knowledge for it, or they could based on other concepts (like a woman disguised as a man to join the army). In these cases, the character may be statted as female, referred to as 'she', and only described as living as a man. Others may just result from error or misreadings. However, the setting has now advanced over a century, they're all dead and forgotten, and now we'll never know (a pity). Without evidence, I don't want to mistakenly "out" these characters as transgender and risk closing off other explanations (an error, in hiding, enlisting in an army, etc.), nor to erase the possibility of them actually being transgender; I'd rather leave it open for readers and future writers to decide for themselves. How should we treat them? Leave them as they were, or qualify it, e.g., "Feminine (lives as Masculine)"?

For example, the characters I know of (ones I've worked on) are:

  • Arash bint Sanjar (possible language error I ran with)
  • Talessyr Tranth (female/"she" living as a man her whole life)
  • Hlartenth (cursed to change sex every few hours)
  • Landswith Meilin (uncertain; female/"she" knight in gender-concealing full plate)
  • Coril (female/"she" in a hiding or living as a man, actually statted as 'fe-“male”', whatever that means).
  • Raulauvin Oregh (male, referred to with "her", maybe based on misreading)
Obviously, transgender females may be more common. In any case, characters like this would require careful re-checking of the source to ensure agreement or lack of assumption. Please do check for yourselves.
— BadCatMan (talk) 13:53, August 18, 2019 (UTC)

Thanks, everyone.

Totally agree, BCM.

To answer your question:

Is "Sexless" right? This seems like it would be for beings with no sex (constructs, slimes, some non-humanoid undead, etc.), not beings who are intersex or fluid-sexed.

I think that "sexless" can be used for beings with no biological sex, yes. For beings who are intersex or fluid sex supernaturally, like deities and such, I still think that "sexless" is OK. It is only through magic that they shape-shift to have sex. But we could just use "neither" or "either" in those cases or something else in the infobox or just leave it blank and discuss whatever is relevant in the body of the article.

I'll wait just a bit before starting to implement this, in case there is any further feedback.

~ Lhynard (talk) 14:54, August 18, 2019 (UTC)

I fully support this. Excellent point.

I also think that "neither" is best in the gender field for gender-fluid or nonconforming characters (like Fala Lefaliir, for example). "Sexless" seems like a better simplification in the sex field for intersex or supernaturally fluid sex beings, as well as beings with no biological sex.

Sirwhiteout (talk) 00:07, August 19, 2019 (UTC)

The technical side of changes to the new system should now be complete. Continue to discuss here if there are any issues.
~ Lhynard (talk) 13:11, September 26, 2019 (UTC)