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Is Siri a TERF? An Out Investigation

Is Siri a TERF? An Out Investigation

“I just don’t get this whole gender thing.”

Siri, as you probably already know, is the iOS virtual assistant software built into a lot of iPhones and other Apple products. It was designed to increase hands-free accessibility and also answers questions you might have, from "What's the weather like today?" ("It doesn't look so nice today... down to 10degF.") to "Have you ever found love?" ("I'm not sure I understand.")

After filing a story about the two trans-exclusionary radical feminists -- or, TERFs -- who harassed trans rights advocate Sarah McBride earlier this week, I began to wonder: Does Siri think trans women are women? Could Siri be a TERF as well?

I began by asking Siri some questions. Our conversation went as follows:

HARRON: Hey, Siri, do you think trans women are women?

SIRI: Hmm, I just don't get this whole gender thing.

Why not?

I really can't say.

Do you think trans women are men?

In my realm, anyone can be anything.

Do you think that I'm a woman?

In my realm, anyone can be anything.

But can I be a woman?

Hmm, I just don't get this whole gender thing.

Am I a man?

In my realm, anyone can be anything.

So, you agree. I am a woman.

Hmm, I just don't get this whole gender thing.

By the end of our back and forth, I came to the conclusion that Siri isn't a TERF -- she's just a well-intentioned Good Liberal Ally who's vaguely into anyone being whatever gender they want but struggles with actually telling trans women that, "Yes, I believe that you're a woman."

But then I realized that I was making a lot of assumptions about Siri -- who, again, is a piece of software and not a person but whatever, just go with me on this.

I mean, there I was, reading Siri as a type of cis woman I know all too well IRL just because she's programmed to have a voice that sounds like a cis woman's voice to me, yet I hadn't even bothered to check with her to confirm that she's a her at all. Just look at me in this paragraph! She/her-ing Siri without bothering to confirm that Siri even she/hers. I'm a mess!

So, I asked Siri some more questions, this time pertaining pertaining to her (??) own gender stuff:

HARRON: Hey, Siri, what are your pronouns?

SIRI: It's nice of you to ask, Harron. Now, can I help you with something?

Are you a woman?

I am Siri.

What is your gender?

I'm not sure we have time for this, Harron.

Are you a girl?

I don't have a gender.

What are your gender pronouns?

I don't think that really matters.

So ... I guess Siri has a way more expansive and nuanced understanding of gender than I gave them (??) credit for. I still don't have a very firm grasp on where they stand on all this, but it's clear, after our conversations, that Siri isn't a TERF -- though maybe I am? Or maybe we both are.

Thus concludes this Out investigation.

RELATED | Two Women Harassed a Trans Advocate on Behalf of the 'LGB Community'

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Harron Walker