Tag Archives: Same-sex

Romantic Google Doodle for Valentine’s Day 2016 ignores Same Sex Attraction

Valentine’s Day 2016 Google Doodle

Doing an Internet search this 14 February St Valentine’s Day morning I was initially amused to discover the ‘oo’ of ‘Google‘ has been turned into a romantic coffeepot presenting a flower to a blushing teapot. How cute, I thought. Upon refreshing, I discovered a second Google doodle of Cactus plant delivering a heart-shaped balloon to a hedgehog on a park bench and finally, a box of tissues presenting a heart shaped chocolate box to a Kleenex roll. All very quaint. Then I realised how anthropomorphically cis/heterosexist it all was – obviously with a pinch of overreacting melodrama!

Whilst the oo’s of Google are identical equal vowels the characters of the doodle were unequal different couples – no same sex attraction at all. The tall male coffee pot gives a rose to a smaller rounded teapot who coyly blushes and lets off steam upon receipt.

St Valentines Day 2016 Google doodle teapot and coffeepot

The playful female cactus plant hands over a balloon and the intelligent male hedgehog stops reading his book to jump up and hug the sweet cactus.

St Valentines Day 2016 Google doodle cactus and hedgehog

The man-size box of tissues brings chocolates, just like the Milk Tray man always did “And all because the lady loves Milk Tray”. The feminine kitchen-cleaning Kleenex rips off a sheet and cries into it.

St Valentines Day 2016 Google doodle tissues


My issue is as much with role as gender or sexuality and more about opposites rather than similar attraction, and is a deliberately over-the-top reaction to make a point about how stereotypically hetero and needy Valentine’s can be portrayed as. In many respects gender is a socially constructed role, rather than a sex, that is assigned even to objects, cables, sockets etc… Although, in part, on that basis one could argue that all of the doodles are same-role, two beverage dispensers (no receptacles), two prick-lies, two tissues.

Google Doodle History

Google has a long history of representing St Valentine’s Day in its near-daily doodle design:St Valentines Day historic Google doodles

Do Opposites Attract?

The so-called, and even allegedly scientific, rule that opposites attract has been represented by Google despite the presence of a sizeable 6-10% gay and lesbian same-sex minority. Even taking opposite stereotypes within that of butch-femme, effeminate-straight acting etc, the presence of butch-butch couples and more similar type couples means that it would be nice if opposite in some way was not the default go-to option for romantic depiction.

Scientists and psychologists have often supported the notion of opposites attracting but some studies have shown, well, the opposite. One study concluded that:

“In Western society, humans use neither an ‘opposites-attract’ nor a ‘reproductive-potentials-attract’ rule in their choice of long-term partners, but rather a ‘likes-attract’ rule based on a preference for partners who are similar to themselves across a number of characteristics.” –  Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, July 2003

Okay, so I know I’m being deliberately defensive and pedantically over-analytical, and that Google is very pro-LGBT, but it would have been nice among the three Google doodles on St Valentine’s Day for one to have been of a same sex/type pairing. Admittedly, I’m in a same-sex relationship in which I am the coffee pot and my partner is the tea pot, but that is just about the beverage choice!

UK Parliament tables Non-Gendered Identity 3-option M-F-X Passports

Third/Non-Gender passport options could be debated in the UK Parliament following a lengthy campaign by people outside the male-female gender binary who feel erased and discriminated against.

[UPDATE – Government “considering” changes to gender identity laws, passport and driving licence changes. Maria Miller, chair of the Commons Women and Equalities committee, said a person’s sex was “not relevant” on official documents, and it created an “unconscious bias” in job applications. Gender details on passports also do not assist with identification, she added. The committee will publish a report on transgender discrimination in January 2016. In an interview with The Times, Miller said gender stereotyping can be as “damaging” for men as women.]

Three gender option passports

A motion was tabled yesterday (5 June 2014) in the UK Parliament to allow non-binary M/F passport gender markers in the UK, to aid those that identify as non-gender, non-binary, agender, bigender, or intergender – or simply hate gender construct labels. The internationally allowed X marker already allows this, not as some compulsory trans or third gender marker which could be used to reduce people’s rights as citizens, but as a self-selected optional marker for those that feel they do not fit the only 2 options given in UK and most nation’s passports. Australia and New Zealand accept the non-gender specific X passport as do India, Nepal and Pakistan. Canada is debating change; Malaysia are allegedly considering removing gender from all passports. Argentina makes switching between Male & Female easy, without legal-medical requirements for trans, intersex, genderqueer, or anyone else for that matter – a move, it has been announced, that Denmark looks set to follow.

This motion is essentially a re-tabling of previous attempts, but taking advantage of a new Parliamentary session – it will need hundreds of signatures to even trigger a full debate.

“Although there is very little prospect of EDMs being debated, many attract a great deal of public interest and frequently receive media coverage … In an average session only six or seven EDMs reach over two hundred signatures. Around seventy or eighty get over one hundred signatures. The majority will attract only one or two signatures. An EDM is not likely to be debated even if it gains a large number of signatures.” Parliament.uk

The move follows LibDem sponsored Government reviews into this since 2011, and yet progress had stalled. The new early day motion has been sponsored by Julian Huppert (LibDem) and is supported by Jeremy Corbyn (Labour). Non-gendered Christie Elan-cane has long fought for non-gendered passports and had her case taken up by MPs such as David Blunkett (Lab), Liberal Democrat MPs Lynne Featherstone and Simon Hughes and Baroness Sarah Ludford MEP.

Some of the last 3 years’ history on this has been blogged about here.

One might think that just two options M/F on passports prejudices just trans, intersex and genderqueer people but if part of a family then gay, lesbian and trans are also affected as the designated parents on child passports. Some countries, including the US have thus adopted gender-neutral parenting option on children’s passports, not mother/father but parent 1/parent 2.

The words “mother” and “father” were being removed from American passport applications and replaced with gender neutral terminology, the US State Department said in 2011. The UK and Australia were said to be following suit.

Legal documents that reflect a person’s gender – or non-gender identity are a basic human right. Denying them, restricts, travel, identification, and citizen rights such as voting or access to welfare benefits.

“The denial of existence is the worst act of discrimination by the gendered majority against the non-genderedChristie Elan-Cane

Elan-Cane prefers ‘per’ in place of him or her and the honorific title Pr, short for Person, neither Mr nor Ms. Shouldn’t we all be entitled to be seen as persons first, and not primarily gendered categories?

Facebook now has some 50+ gender options, why do we need any on official documentation? The military does not use gender as a means of identification, just name and rank. Height, eyes, and finger prints should be sufficient on biometric passports. Gender, race and identifying marks are invasive, insufficient and inappropriate. Nationality, for the sake of legal travel rights and repatriation. But I cannot see how gender matters.

[An early version of this article first appeared here.]

Update on “X” Gender not specified UK Passports

During the current April-May 2015 General Election campaign, several parties, initially just the Greens and LibDems, but now both Ed Miliband (Labour) and David Cameron (Conservative) have pledged to re-examine X-Gender passports:

“The Conservative leader also said he would consider following Australia and New Zealand in introducing ‘Gender X’ passports for people who do not identify as male or female – after Ed Miliband also pledged to review the issue in his PinkNews Q&A