I think you hit the nail on the head for a few reasons.
Your approach seems just as valid as making a character name choice, like when you’re offered a few name choices but are given the option of text_input for the name you actually respond to, out of familiarity, or with what name you identify.
How complex the subsequent coding gets after that is the writer’s burden in IF.
Your simple method, supported by a text_input seems to me to be the most organic way to maintain smooth story flow and a unified IF writing style. Keeping it painless and less like an inquisition.
I think any time the reader eases into a story without justifying everything about themself, it will be an enjoyable read.
My test for personal identification inquiries is no different than any other identification, be it race, sexual preference or gender. At what stage is that required in the story? Up front or later as the story develops? I think that depends on the specific story.
To me, if the story is accepting of male and female genders, it must also be styled to accept non-binary genders just as seamlessly - without turning it into a massive Q&A or examination to define things that are better eased into where and when necessary, later in the story as detailed choices arise.
I read a few comments from non-binary readers saying that they felt “put off” by some of the more intrusive methods of defining their identity.
And their reasoning is they’re just people, not alien life forms that require dissection to enjoy being part of the story. I agree with that reasoning because no one wants to be treated any different than anyone else. That’s real acceptance, rather than merely being patronized.
As IF writers, we are inviting people to enjoy a ride in our carnival fun-house, promising to show them all a good time with thrills and chills with the powerful draw of acceptance, romance and interactions not always found in the mundane world. That’s a very compelling offer.
The tricky part is delivering on that promise in such an inclusive way that every reader believes the story was written just for them. I think that’s at the very heart of this craft.
We may think that has become more difficult recently but only because society is becoming far more aware that everyone does not fit neatly into two clearly defined gender categories. Between black and white, there’s a spectrum of gray.
I think it would put me off too, if the story reacted to me clicking on I’m non-binary character like choosing to be a Black character followed by, “OMG you’re Black? Tell me more about your Blackness.” I’ve substituted race for gender to illustrate that the same sensibilities might apply in how writers can approach something deeply personal to each reader.
Interactive fiction is one of the primary mediums that deals with that reality head-on so whatever styles and methods that emerge now are evolving by trial and error into something just as simple and organic as picking or assigning a name so the emphasis remains on every reader enjoying the ride.
This is relatively uncharted territory so I believe that listening to reader criticism has to be seen as important input - where the complete answer will eventually be found. At some point, style guides will come out for several aspects of IF writing as this medium advances and continues to grow and innovate.
The fact that IF writers like you and others are searching for answers to these questions is a big reason why IF has grown into what pulp fiction used to be when a mobile device was an inexpensively printed paperback, sold at news stands for a dime.
I’m not sure if agree with all of my reasoning but I like how you handled it in your example for those reasons.