The Unexpected Gender Option On the Medical Form


When filling out paperwork for an upcoming doctor’s appointment, I was a little surprised by a third gender option on the patient intake form.

I realize that some people don’t feel entirely comfortable identifying as male or female. But if there was a third gender option, what would you expect it to be?

The other day, I called my physician to set up an appointment for a checkup. Since I recently turned the Big 5-0, I figured it was time. The receptionist looks up my records and says I hadn’t come in for five years.

Five years? I didn’t think it had been that long!

Unfortunately, after three years, their computer system kicks you out. (Maybe it assumes you died!) So I had to register as if I were a new patient.

At 50, I don’t particularly feel “new”

In any case, they asked me to visit their website and fill out a registration form. The questions were very basic.

I reached the gender question and saw a dropdown bar. It offered three options. Okay, I thought, I have a progressive doctor.

I saw male and female…then the third gender option: unknown.

Unknown? Really?

A while back, Facebook released an absolutely absurd number of gender options. Some might argue that you can only be one or the other: male or female. Many of us — even if we identify as the gender we were born into — understand that for some people, it’s a bit more complicated than that.

But even the majority of folks who don’t identify solidly as one or the other still has a reasonable idea of how they identify. I suspect their answer wouldn’t be “unknown.”

I think other would have been such a better option. Other, after all, would cover non-binary and all of the gray area in between male and female.

“Unknown” makes it sound as if the person doesn’t know their own gender identity.

When I have my appointment, I’m going to have to ask ol’ Doc about that one!

Leave a Response

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Patrick is a Christian with more than 29 years experience in professional writing, producing and marketing. His professional background also includes social media, reporting for broadcast television and the web, directing, videography and photography. He enjoys getting to know people over coffee and spending time with his dog.