Querying the quantification of the queer. Xenofeminist interactive visualizations of the gender spectrum

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School of Arts, Design and Architecture | Master's thesis
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Master’s Programme in Visual Communication Design
73 + 15
Traditional male/female gender surveys are the very first device of gendered discrimination. They expect heteronormative behaviors from the users, thus producing imprecise datasets. Indeed, theoretical frameworks from data feminism and xenofeminism revealed that any gender ideology manipulates data and algorithms, as well as algorithms manipulate gender. Since it is impossible to describe with only one label the genderqueer experience, the study hypothesized that information design could produce inclusive and precise gender surveys through an interactive visualization of the gender spectrum. The review focused on six spectra coming from LGBTQ+ communities as inspirations for the design phase. They confirmed great inclusivity but lacked the mathematical quantification given by Sandra Bem’s gender scales. Uncertainty display provided techniques for graphically translating queer identities, quantified as arrays of gender combinations with a probability to happen. Every gender combination was determined by feminine, masculine, and other factors. The categorization of an ‘other’ approached queer genders that refuse to be enclosed by any system. This study pertained to feminist user-centered design since it involved many minoritized users for reaching feminist objectivity. Several ethnographic interviews intertwined with the design practice in an iterative process. The Gender Diamond and Flower were the gender spectra built on two and three gender scales respectively. The charts were divided into rects representing a gender combination each. An explanatory interface supported the learning of the two charts, giving verbal references for each gender combination. Ordered dynamic captions offered guidance along the learning journey. Also, the study implemented a selection process, allowing the description of primary and secondary sexual identities. The study confirmed the hypothesis but did not provide a gender survey that could have a broad practical use since the long learning process. Still, similarly to critical and queered design objects, the two charts shed light on a feminist dys-/utopia. Also, various experts in the field confirmed the correctness of the project and specific applications in psychotherapy, education, and data analysis were then suggested.
Vyas, Rupesh
Thesis advisor

queer, gender, gender spectrum, gender survey, feminism, xenofeminism, data feminism, information design
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Media files notes: Explanatory sexualities quantified through the Gender Diamond and Gender Flower data schemata