This question is inspired by How to politely notify in an online conversation that I am a woman?.
In my non-internet life, I identify nonambiguously as female. However, on the internet, it's important to me to be gender-unknown. I don't want people to assume either gender. Note that some of the places where I participate have 80 to 90% male participation. Occasionally there is an awkward moment, typically of two types:
a. Someone refers to me as male.
In making a correction, I feel afraid of being outed. (My posts may contain some subtle hints that an astute, intuitive reader could piece together.)
b. Someone refers to me as female.
In making a correction, I feel nervous that this will draw more attention to my gender status, with the result that more people will start scrutinizing my posts, and this increases the chances that someone might out me.
Some online moderators generally have little or no sympathy or interest in providing support around this issue, leaving me to fend for myself.
What's a good way of asserting myself in situations (a) and (b)? I believe any wrong guess is best corrected early on, before more people's perceptions and assumptions are created and ingrained. I would prefer a non-aggressive message, but assertive would be fine.
Would this work?
Please don't assume my gender.
What's a succinct way of letting people know that I prefer to maintain an unknown gender? Or is this inherently risky? Because perhaps this stance is more prevalent online among women than men? (If so, that complicates Question 1....)
@sphennings Are you wanting to identify as explicitly agendered online, or are you just wanting to be ambiguous?
Sorry, what's the difference?
@peufeu - At least one SE site frequented by approximately 80% male participants. In fact I was outed at one point, fortunately it was in a rather buried comment that few people actually read. The moderators refused to help. I eventually managed to get the outer to delete his comment. He had researched me online, out of curiosity, I guess, and figured out my gender from a particular ancient post on another SE site (which I have since edited).
Edit 2/25, responding to questions in comments:
@sphennings - When you're online do you want for people to be unsure what your gender is or do you want to explicitly identify as neither male or female by saying something like "I'm agendered.", "I'm genderqueer." or any other nonbinary gender identity?
When I'm online I want people to be unsure what my gender is, and treat me as might-be male or might be female. I want them to go through the mental calculation that says, Hmm. If this user is female, then I read her post in such-and-so a way. But if this user is male, than I read his post in this-other way. So, in thinking about the post, I really need to keep an open mind, because there's no way of finding out for certain.
@peufeu - that's weird. Is it a geek/engineering SE? On my usual list of websites no-one would give a damn about your gender, unless discussing relationships or other stuff where it matters like choice of bicycle saddle!... is it about religion or something? or are you doing undercover infiltration among an angry bunch of MGTOW?
You can choose to believe me or not.
@Catija - I think that what may be confusing some is the connection to the other question.
No direct connection. I read the other question, and found it and the answers interesting. They helped me formulate this question. If you think it's better to remove the link at the top go ahead.
If you don't want them to know your gender, why does it matter if they use gendered pronouns for you?
There is sometimes a power balance based on gender. As long as I'm not identified as female on the site, other participants will not relegate me to that pigeonhole. On the other hand, it would feel dishonest to try to pass for male.
@maskedman Even after the OP's "clarification", things are not any more clear, are they?
What aspects are unclear? Please let me know what aspect(s) need to be clarified and I will do my best.
@stochastic - I think if I don't want to specify my gender, I just don't, and if someone assumes one or the other, I pretend I didn't notice. Does that not work?
No, unfortunately. Once people start to refer to a particular user with a gendered pronoun, the assumption spreads to other users.
@WitanapDanu I still remain unclear as to what the OP specifically would like to achieve under her normal account's activity. Keep everyone guessing while remaining mysterious? Be clear, in that context, that the gender is to remain unknown and actively discourage discovery? Just be considered a user and make gender immaterial? Or, some other specific result(s) that I have not identified. Different objectives require different methods.
When other participants read my posts, I want them to respond to the ideas in it, based on their intrinsic value and my reputation score, without being guided by gender-based internal scripts.
No matter how careful I am from here on out, there is always a chance I will be outed again. If there's more that I can do to prevent that from happening, great. If it happens again, I want to be prepared with an action plan.