How to create dynamically-gendered texts

The gist

To dynamically alter gender in a text, pronouns and other gendered words must be identified, and associated with the corresponding character in a machine-readable format. This is called "tagging."

A dynamically-gendered text needs to:

  1. Have a "legend" to identify each character's name choice for female, male, and non-binary, and indicate the character's default gender.
  2. Identify all character names, gendered pronouns, and gendered words.
  3. Associate all the gendered words the appropriate character in the text.

To create a text, it's your responsibility to do each of the above. Watch the tutorial video or follow the steps below to add a text to the Project library.

Step 1 : Create an account

To add a text, you'll first need to register with a username and password.

Register

Step 2 : Select a text

Choose a text which is already in the public domain or with permission from the copyright holder. Project Gutenberg is a great source of material that is out of copyright and fair game for this project.

Step 3: Start a draft from the workbench

Workbench

From your workbench, start a new text and add the title, author, genre and original publication date. List all the personae in the story, including female, male and non-binary alternative names for each. In order to be able to change the gender of the characters in the story, you'll need to identify and tag all character names, gendered nouns, and gendered pronouns in the text.

Text Preparation Tool to the rescue

Finding all instances of pronouns and gendered words in a text can be a tedious process. So, we've built a tool that (mostly) does that for you. Input any original text and the tool will automatically add the tagging syntax for all pronouns and known gendered words (see our replacement map). All that's left for you to do, then, is mark which character corresponds to which tag.

Text Preparation Tool

For example, the following text:

One midday when, after an absence of two hours, Arabella came into the room, she beheld the chair empty. Down she flopped on the bed, and sitting, meditated.

"Now where the devil is my man gone to!" she said.

Becomes:

One midday when, after an absence of two hours, {{ she(NAME-HERE) }} came into the room, {{ she(NAME-HERE) }} beheld the chair empty. Down {{ she(NAME-HERE) }} flopped on the bed, and sitting, meditated. 

"Now where the devil is my {{ man(NAME-HERE) }} gone to!" {{ she(NAME-HERE) }} said. 

Finally, you need to go through the text and tie the character names, pronouns, or gendered words to the correct character. For example, in this example, every instance the name Jude appears in the story, it needs to be tagged with double brackets with no spaces; Jude becomes {{Jude}} and Arabella becomes {{Arabella}}.  Pronouns referring to those characters, as well as any gendered words that refer to them also need to be tagged inside of double brackets and a space. In these sample sentences. There are three instances of the pronoun "she," all referring to Arabella. So we tag these as {{ she(Arabella) }}.

Words like "man," "sister," "wife," etc., are inherently gendered. In order to make the text fully gender-dynamic, each of these words needs to be identified, and mapped to a gender equivalent. There is one instance of "man," referring to Jude, so we write this as {{ man(Jude) }}.

The complete, tagged text now looks like this:

One midday when, after an absence of two hours, {{ Arabella }} came into the room, {{ she(Arabella) }} beheld the chair empty. Down {{ she(Arabella) }} flopped on the bed, and sitting, meditated.

"Now where the devil is my {{ man(Jude) }} gone to!" {{ she(Arabella) }} said.

The Gendered Text Project has a canonical replacement map for gendered words. Any word on this list is eligible to be tagged in your text, and will dynamically change to its gendered equivalent when necessary. If your text has a gendered word that is not on this list, contact the maintainers to add it.

Callouts

An idiosyncrasy of English language pronouns is that, while the male possessive pronoun "his" (as in "I like his shirt") is identical to the determinative (as in "That shirt is his"), the female equivalents differ (i.e., "I like her shirt" vs. "That shirt is hers"). Accordingly, male determinative pronouns must be entered as "hisd" (e.g., That shirt is {{ hisd(Adam) }}) for differentiation from the possessive "his" (to avoid the result "I like hers shirt").

Similarly, the female determiner ("I like her hairdo") is identical to the female object ("I like her"), but the male forms differ ("I like his hairdo" vs. "I like him"). Therefore, the female determiner must be identified as "herd".

Placeholder Female rendered text Male rendered text
{{ She(Eve) }} She He
{{ Eve }} Eve Adam
{{ he(Eve) }} she he
{{ his(Eve) }} hers his
{{ hisd(Eve) }} her his
{{ him(Eve) }} her him
{{ her(Eve) }} her him
{{ herd(Eve) }} her his

 

See the complete list of gendered words with gendered variables.

Step 4: Submit your text for review & publication.

When you've tested your text to your satisfaction, you can submit the text for consideration from the workbench. 

Contact the administrators with any questions. Watch the video tutorial to see these steps in action.