Thursday, March 19, 2009

The Third Sex?

Here’s something I’ve never encountered before: A few hours after booking our tickets to Australia, I went back to the Qantas site to double-check that my reservation had gone through. It had, but the site did want me to fill in some pre-departure information to make it official.

One of the personal details they wanted amused me. They wanted to know my gender, which is not so funny, but the options were: male, female, or “unspecified.”

“Unspecified.” Not “transgender,” or “intersex.” Not “none of your darn business.” Just “unspecified.”

I have the impression that Australians pride themselves on being a little more brash and forthright than their tea-sipping Kiwi neighbors, but I am reminded that both countries came into the world as English colonies, and it seems the Aussies haven’t totally lost their instinct for defusing awkward questions in a dignified and understated way.

(I marked “female,” but I’m seriously considering changing my answer just to see what happens.)

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