Written by: Ritushree and Team Ungender
Like many others, the Covid-19 pandemic kept me from doing something I love: travelling. Before the pandemic hit, I would travel at least once a month. Let me tell you why I love travelling. After several therapy sessions, I came to terms with my gender dysphoria. I travelled to other cities where I could be myself – the woman I am without any fear of prejudice. This January, when the Covid-19 situation seemed better, I started travelling again, with all precautions, of course.
Even though the pandemic has changed the world, some things are, unfortunately, still the same.
I book my flight tickets and hotels online. Every time I book my tickets, a part of me feels bad.
Almost all the websites that I use to book my tickets, I’m made to choose my gender in binary. It’s always either ‘Male’ or ‘Female’. There’s hardly ever an option for transgender persons and non-binary persons.
The Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Act was passed in 2019.
Why, even a year and a half later, do I have to be subjected to trauma each time I try and book something as simple as a flight ticket? How can a person with a government ID that identifies them as a transgender person be forced to choose between Male or Female?
This was killing me. I thought about it a lot. I felt isolated. Not one person I knew was talking about this. I thought that was because nobody thinks anything will ever change.
I decided to do something about this binary imposition. On March 7, while booking my flight tickets on MakeMyTrip, I was triggered again when I had to choose between M/F.
I took a screenshot of the form and posted it on Twitter asking MakeMyTrip for answers about this discrimination.
— Ritushree 🌈 (@QueerNaari) March 7, 2021
The tweet had a decent reach because, on March 12, Mr Saurav Khurana from the MakeMyTrip management reached out to me. Mr Khurana assured me that they’ll change the interface. But nothing has happened so far.
That got me thinking about all the other websites that ask for gender data but don’t provide the option for transgender persons. Everyday, we use so many online platforms where we’re asked to provide gender data in binary. This may cause very little to no inconvenience to others but for transgender persons, it is all about pride, acceptance and our rights.
Some poor attempts at inclusion happen when websites ask if you’re Male/Female or Others. At the outset, this might look like inclusion of gender diversity but it is not.
Putting all other genders, beyond the binary, in the category of “Others” and “Unspecified” is discrimination. The exclusion and discrimination are pervasive. Why can’t a transgender person say that they’re transgender proudly? These forms are perpetuating stigma against transgender folks.
Many companies implement D&I policies at the workplace but fail to realise that diversity and inclusion shouldn’t just be limited to employees but should also be for consumers. Moreover, the non-inclusion of ‘Transgender’ on the form is also violative of the law. Any exclusion of transgender persons is discrimination and a sign of transphobia.
One of the people who had reached out to me after my tweet on March 7 was Pallavi Pareek from Ungender. Together, we came up with #UngenderForms – an initiative to identify 100 online platforms in India that ask for gender data in binaries and urge these platforms/websites/companies to #UngenderForms and fix the issue at the earliest.
I’m excited to share that in the last two weeks, Team Ungender and I have built a database of 100 companies that need to Ungender their forms at the earliest! From online shopping websites, streaming platforms to government websites, we’ve covered a lot of ground.
Among the 100 companies on the list, you will find popular online platforms like Flipkart, Myntra, Urban Company, Nykaa, Practo, Big Basket, GoIbibo, ClearTrip, Chumbak, Zivame, JustDial.
You can find the entire list of companies, here.
Today on International Transgender Day Of Visibility, I urge every single person reading this, to reach out to the listed companies and ask them to #UngenderForms. Let us know that you’re pushing for this important conversation for me and other transgender folks in the country by using the hashtag #UngenderForms.
We’re writing to the companies on the #UngenderForms list today and urging them to address this exclusionary feature and fix it.
So, if you’re someone who comes across a form that asks for gender data in binary, take a screenshot and tag us at @UngenderTalks on Twitter and use the hashtag #UngenderForms. You can also find us on Instagram, LinkedIn and Facebook.
Similarly, if you’re a company, doesn’t matter if you’re on the list or not, if you’re taking note of this exclusionary feature and fixing it, show us and everybody else that you’ve evolved. Tag us at @UngenderTalks and use the hashtag.
We’re going to push for change until the companies Ungender their forms and take the much-needed step towards inclusion. To keep yourself updated, follow Ritushree, here, and Ungender on Twitter, here.
#UngenderForms is a part of Project 100. An Ungender initiative – Project 100 reflects our dedication to ungender our language and our day-to-day interactions. In addition to #UngenderForms, we have built a Gender Dictionary with over 100 words on all things gender, we’ve also tracked over 100 all-male panels or manels across 2020. We hope to continue to add to Project 100 other such important developments in our work with gender.