[I]f designers don’t include explicit or implicit gender cues in their robots, users still have a habit of perceiving them as male or female. People give their Roombas gendered pet names. Just as we have a massive proclivity to anthropomorphize the objects around us, so we like to call them he or she—tendencies that aren’t unrelated.
The controversy about the term “tranny” is not a singular occurrence; such tussles have become a rather predictable and regular part of all kinds of conferences and meetings. Indeed, it is becoming difficult to speak, to perform, to offer up work nowadays without someone, somewhere claiming to feel hurt, or re-traumatized by a cultural event, a painting, a play, a speech, a casual use of slang, a characterization, a caricature and so on whether or not the “damaging” speech/characterization occurs within a complex aesthetic work.