A discussion on twitter in the past few days - with a delightfully positive ending for gender queer representation! - has left me pondering the subject of gender in evolutionary astrology. Namely... is it necessary? At all? As a genderqueer person who uses they/them pronouns and would be most content if people didn't have the faintest clue what's in my trousers, it doesn't seem to be much of an important aspect of my natal chart, to me. In the words of Anna Joy, creator of Queer Witch:
“I started to feel really alienated and ostracized by the gendered language in both witchcraft and astrology."
When you're building your natal chart on Astrodienst (my site of choice), Astro-Seek or Cafe Astrology - to name but a few popular sites that will put it together for you if you know your birth data - you will come to a page where it asks you to input a few key details. When and where you were born, most importantly. It will probably also ask you to choose your gender, and in most places it will give you three options: male, female, and event. Sometimes, if like me you choose 'event' and are left feeling like some kind of amorphous temporal blob instead of a human, choosing the third will limit what you're able to do on the site. Compatibility and more in-depth horoscopes might not generate without a gender to talk about, because someone, once upon a time, decided that a Scorpio Man and a Scorpio Woman are apparently two alien creatures who could not possibly have anything in common.
Now, since I'm married to a Scorpio Man and I don't think he has any difficulty in understanding me, a Scorpio Event, I'm beginning to see a problem.
The Status is Not Quo: The Gender is Not Binary
The debate in question on twitter was "if a third gendered option were to be included, would 'non binary' be the right one?" My answer was... yes, and no. As non-binary identities go it is definitely the best known choice. Most people who don’t use she or he would be fine with it.... but the key word there is fine. You could make an argument for “other” as it could cover all of your bases, but then that suggests that a portion of your user base is “other than normal” so that is certainly the wrong call. For example, the FAQ page for gender on Astrodienst posits that they can't add another option because:
"There's tens of thousands of pages of text in currently 11 languages which covers male, female, male homosexual and female homosexual. The work of 30 years. We are simply unable to rewrite and retranslate all that to insert another "gender variant"."
But... straight cis male/female and homosexual cis/male female aren't the only people in the world. So that's thirty years of research I'm apparently not a part of. Oops.
I would suggest that perhaps your best option is to go with either self-identification options like “male, female, non-binary, agender” etc and decide where to cut the list off or find a way to program your site so that people can input their identity from the beginning. Not “male, female or [type alternative]”, but normalize the option from the very get-go. Since I spend my time as “an event” and I certainly don’t consider myself to be all that eventful nor does selecting that option change my analysis of my natal chart in any way... like I said, I can't find it in me to imagine that choosing one or the other is going to give me a wildly different natal chart to the one that I have. So if I was building an astrology site, I would make a spirited argument for the third option; don’t include gender. At all. Don’t limit “synergy” etc by which people are in which of the boxes, just have the details that are actually relevant to the generation of a birth chart. The planets don’t care what you’ve got in your pants, after all.
While I'm at it, why do we need masculine and feminine signs? What's the point in masculine and feminine energy? Why is masculine energy "what we have to project into the world" and feminine "much more introverted" (source)? Who decided that I don't get to be a very loud and proud woman while also being a shy man? I feel just as drawn to my supposedly feminine Sun (Scorpio) as I do to my apparently masculine Moon (Aquarius). Isn't there a better way that we can classify these aspects without having to use gender? The elements and the fixed/mutable classifications, after all, work perfectly fine with a different vocabulary, so why can't extroversion and introversion just be... those words? Or how about reflective and receptive?
Simple. Problem one sorted.
Manly Men Doing... Womanly Things?
Modern gender roles are... well, broken, really. My husband does the sewing in the house, because he enjoys it. I fixed the postbox today and then had a cold beer. I know stay-at-home dads whose wives have full-time careers, and people who don't live with their partners but instead choose to share a house with a web of interconnected friends and through the nuclear family model out the window. (While we're at it, that's pretty defunct, too.) While once upon a time these roles might have been the norm, and as such might have influenced how personality traits would be expressed in a person, that's not the case in 2020.
My husband and I are both as equally likely to throw hands with a nazi, and it doesn't matter that he uses one set of pronouns and gets his drive from his Moon in Aries in a night chart, while I use another set of pronouns and get mine from Mars in Scorpio in a day chart. If we switched pronouns, we'd still be the same people. But some websites, and certain astrologers, would probably say very different things about our propensity to throw down if my chart happened to use female pronouns, for example. It's tempting to run it through a couple of different places with different pronoun sets and see what they come up with. But... it would be false, categorically. Because I am not my pronouns. And my gender is not my personality.
Out With the Old-Fashioned
Evolutionary astrology - founded by Steven Forrest and Jeffrey Wolf Green - "measure[s] the growth of the soul from life to life... [with] an acceptance of the fact that human beings interact creatively and unpredictably with their birthcharts" (source). To quote Green, it asks the question:
“Why am I here, and what are my lessons?”
...the answer to those questions are not "to be a girl or a boy or an event". Amongst other things, an analysis of the placements of the planets in your chart is a portrait of the personality traits that you broadcast to the world, and the different ways in which you interact with people. In a world where traditions are changing, society's approach to gender is evolving and we have new and exciting ways to learn, to grow and to interact with people and the world, your pronouns don't matter.
Or rather, on a personal basis they may be very important to you, but they don't matter to an ephemeris. When I say to remove gender, I just mean from the way that we talk about astrology. If it's an important part of your life, then it's an important part of your chart, and perhaps I've been pretty generalized up until now. A transmasculine person might want to consider two sides of themselves while finding themselves, for example. In fact, Erika Smith puts it much better than me in this article, here. I'm having a very Scorpionic Mars Retrograde in my Saturn Return year, you see. But it's food for thought, anyway.