About the concept of genders 2.0


As someone else said, we’re kind of already in the minefield by having a gender field at all. Continuing the “minefield” analogy, we’re currently just pretending the mines don’t exist while walking straight through it and hoping for the best.

I would vote for this (but I don’t feel strongly enough to lobby/argue for it). If I’d been around at the start of Musicbrainz (and assuming I was as gender-issue-aware back then as I am now) I would have argued more strongly about avoiding the minefield.


Your argument is very well worded and I can’t think of a reason not to improve the ‘male/female/other’ fields, bringing MB in line with what other organisations (some with far more red tape than MB) are doing as standard practice today. I don’t think changing these fields would cause many (if any) issues.

ps Getting rid of gender altogether has been discussed previously but I think we should directly address paula’s proposal which is pretty specific.


During the last summit, according to the minutes: “We agreed to split “Not Applicable” out of Other, and to rename the remaining Other into something else if the community can reach a reasonable level of consensus on what that something else should be.”

I… forgot about that one :slight_smile: So, I added “Not applicable” now. We can start moving artists there as needed!

Re: renaming other - is this suggestion wide enough that it should encompass everyone else? Or do you expect some people would still say “I’m not male, female, nor non-binary/genderqueer, I’m something else entirely!” and expect yet another option? (aka: would it make sense to still keep “Other” in case someone doesn’t feel included in any of the other 3?).


If we’re just going to invent a synonym for “other” that is both cumbersome and potentially offensive to some people anyway (see the point raised about queer above), we might as well just keep calling it other.

Now that we have non-applicable and other, is there any situation where we would use other for anything but a human being? So all non-human artists should go in “Not applicable”?


What’s “Not applicable” to be used for? Special Purpose Artists?


And things like companies added as artists.


I would expect companies to have type = group, like for example


If we will not be removing the gender field, then I propose the following: artists will have a gender field with the following checkboxes in the editor: male, female, other, none and not applicable. Next to “other” should be a text box for editors to input the word used by the artists to describe themselves. In other words, gender will now be stored as a string. The “male” and “female” checkboxes are only there for editing convenience, since most people in the world identify as either of these genders. “None” means agender, which indicates that the person does not identify with any gender in the gender spectrum (correct me if I’m wrong). “Not applicable” is used for companies and groups.

Gender labels are very personal and there’s no consensus to what each label means. Even if there is general agreement on definitions, there will be people who don’t accept that definition and take offense to being labelled in a certain way. Using strings will allow infinite number of labels being used, hence allowing any and all gender to be inputted. Consistency is not very important here, because this data is not a core part of the MB database, but we can normalize strings for editorial styling (eg. removing capital letters).

Edit: Adding a screenshot for those who don’t want to read my wall of text:


Cool, thanks.

Personally I think this can only be a first step, because: yes - there will be people who won’t be able to identify with one of the three options (or just one of the three options), but I don’t think a 4th option called “other” would improve that.


My friend is very clear as to what they think of gender. They really do see it as “not applicable” to the job they do. This is why they would pick “not applicable” here in this database if they were a musician. I do not see how someone could imply “Not Applicable” would make them someoene human? It seems more logical to read that as “my gender is not applicable to this conversation”.

They certainly do get annoyed at being grouped in with “genderqueer” as they do not identify with the “queer” world. Very much a case of “each to their own definition”. :slight_smile:

I also agree with them. I do not see any reason why people need to be shoved into boxes all the time. Why those people who selected “other” be forced into a box? And whose opinion as to which box they go into? It is hard enough working out release dates of albums :smiley: I can just imaging the edit note argument on specifics of gender!

I realise there are some gender campaigners out there who are loud and proud about who they are. There are also others who would rather just get on with life and not become part of some campaign. They just want to live life in their body in their way.

Personally I usually select “Not Applicable” when asked my gender, race, religion. Especially on survey forms. It really is “Not applicable”, but if I found that “other” had then been swapped to “non-binary-genderqueer” I would be very annoyed by that change.


As to the point about changes during a career. I don’t know why you knock that one back so quickly. It seems quite logical to me that someone can have an early musical career in their “birth gender”, and then later in life they have transitioned to a new gender. But they are still proud of the early career. So this would lead to the need of having a start\end date on the “gender” of their career.

A few people I can point at on UK TV like this - names slip my mind at the moment but there is a historian who regularly appears in these shows whose earlier career was male. She has only slightly adjusted her name and is clearly linked with her previously male past. So for those people who gender is important would want to know when the changes occurred with respect to the career.

MB Database is about data mining. So if you make the data available it will be mined in ways you never expected.

This is a level of complication that MB should not have to deal with. It is rare that the artist is the one uploading or editing data. So how would MB contact the artist to find out how they want to be represented? Just seems a level too far.

What does Wikidata \ Wikimedia do? It seems more logical that this is the kind of data they should be working with. They store much more on artists and their history that MB could ever have space\structure for.

I would not want to see this issue cause the removal of the “gender” option for the artists. I’d just like to see some examples used elsewhere online before trying to convert a Music Database into a gender campaign.


(ARGH!! I tried to stay away from this thread last time it appeared… I have too many opinions in this one, too many friends deep in this world. Even my ex-partner has a PhD in Gender Studies :grin: I didn’t want to see those kinds of debates appearing here… but now I am dragged in…)


I should have been more clear before: “Not applicable” is the option to use for entities where the concept of genders can’t apply - so definitely not for humans.
The option you are thinking of is to simply leave the gender field blank - that is still possible.

Other is also a box - but one that probably nobody in that box can identify with. At least I don’t know of a gender identity called “other”.


I don’t agree. Companies shouldn’t be artist entities at all, but if they have to be they should be separated from real artists by type.
A group has members, a company has employees.


No need for new type, company = group is good enough.


Wikipedia says:

A company […] is a legal entity made up of an association of people, be they natural, legal, or a mixture of both […]

So a company can also be a group of actual humans, but they can also be a collection of non-human entities. But in any case they are most likely not a group in the music sense.


I’m happy with adding a few extra labels such as non-binary and genderqueer as ways of saying the categories of male and female do not fully apply to the person.

What we do next after that is not as clear.
Musicbrainz is using the fixed database model where there is a set list of things and we can assign these things to our entry. With this style of database the list of things is controlled and adding to the list is a manual process and who can change the list is restricted to a few people.

There are other models such as wikidata where you can add items and create relationships between these items. Wikidata has P21 as the gender property that entries can have and has a list of accepted genders that can be applied to humans.

One thing we are missing is a definitive list of what genders would need to be added.
I don’t care about how big or short the list of options are but the process that is used to add entries to the list.
What would be good is to have an international, well respected organisation that has a list of genders with definitions on what they are that we can point to.
Making us the source of truth for this something I would like to avoid.


I disagree with this sentence. All we need is to agree on the sentence that is already in the guidelines:


Use the gender the artist identifies as.

If we agree on that than all we need is a statement by the artist saying what they identify as.
A definition by a well respected organization could be helpful to everybody who wants to be able to understand what the artist might mean with their statement.

I don’t think we need to start with a definitive list, but just add gender identities as they come up, just as we do with instruments.
I started a small list of missing gender options, with examples of artists and links to statements here:



Just delete genders.
We don’t need them - other than to separate Jean Smith from Jean Smith.

Let Wikipedia handle the free-form writing.


That page is interesting. I can’t read too many languages, but when looking at the lists there are clearly many categories missing. And also big differences between languages.

It is a good example why this shouldn’t be a debate for MB to take on. The debate should be happening in centralised places like Wikidata where it is open to a wider collection of people than just those of us interested in music.

This needs to be part of a MUCH wider debate elsewhere. Use the Wikidata list… but drive them to have the debate. Get more eyes on it that way, and then bring the results back here.

I’ve seen this subject kick off some nasty battles and arguments as not everyone is open minded. This steps into different politics, countries, religions and attitudes in general. A much bigger debate that should be had in a better forum than this.

MB should be about the music…


I don’t really need a WP definition because group is just a group of persons (artists), so it covers everything including companies of package designers, of hair dressers or anything we (rarely) need in our relationships.
I don’t know why I often read “non-humans” in this topic.
A company is made of persons otherwise we would not need them in MB.


Rabbit Rights count too!! :joy_cat::rabbit:

Or maybe Aliens. I think this could be about Aliens.:cactus::milky_way: Why else is the software called Picard?:jlpicard:

It has confused me too this bit. Maybe I should go back and read the rest of this thread?

If we start putting “non-humans” in, will this mean we need to categorise Digital Audio Processing hardware?