Gender in authority work: new vocabulary for field 375, and RDA’s definition of gender

As long as we’re talking about terminology in authority records, here’s a new(ish) development:  The gender terms we have been accustomed to using in field 375 (male, female, not known) have been removed from RDA.  The current instruction at is “Record the gender of the person, using an appropriate term in a language preferred by the agency creating the data.  Select a term from a standard list, if available.”  Currently, DZM Z1 refers to LCSH as a preferred vocabulary, but according to an email from Paul Frank, LCSH will be replaced by LCDGT in the next update.  If we are creating or editing name authority records, to keep up with PCC policy, we should start using LCDGT terms in field 375 (with $2 lcdgt).

You can access LCDGT from ClassWeb.  If you do not have ClassWeb access, you can retrieve a PDF document from the Acquisitions and Bibliographic Access Directorate home page, though it will be slightly less current.  Netanel Ganin of Brandeis University has also posted the terms in a more navigable page in the style of ClassWeb, and he plans to keep his list up to date with each update.

Note that RDA defines “gender” in as “the gender with which a person identifies.”  Fortunately, the U.S. Congress neither funds nor controls RDA, so that definition will presumably remain in force.  Besides reflecting evolving thinking on gender, it is compatible with the longstanding PCC policy of respecting a person’s preference, when known, regarding details of the authority record.  For persons who have changed their gender identity, this can result in more than one 375 term, often with dates specifying when the person began ($s) or ceased ($t) to be identified with a particular gender.  (See Carlos, Wendy and Bono, Chaz for examples, although with RDA rather than LCDGT terminology.)

(Partially cross-posted at Three Catalogers Walk Into a Blog.)


Author: R.A. Stewart

Librarian, poet, sometime musician, father, grandfather, codger; as of November 9, 2016, second-class citizen of a banana republic.

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