This article on a better drop down menu for gender made for interesting reading. It is not a perspective I had - it was good to learn something new. A slight variation on the slider model that the author presents might by something like a heat map. A user so inclined, could find a spot on that best identified who they were or what their position was on a certain issue.
The idea being that the traditional drop down is good if your goal is to bucket people into clear categories but is not nearly useful as a tool for an individual to express themseleves. Somewhere between writing a thousand word essay on gender (the topic of Sarah Dopp's article) and picking either Male or Female is a myraid of user interface possibilities. It is a wonderful idea with diverse applicability and it would be great to see it implemented on main stream websites in a way that appeals to the non-geek crowd as well.