Facebook introduces 50 new gender identity options

| February 14, 2014
From Facebook.

From Facebook.

Gender is highly structured within our society. People must decide early on if they fit into the male or female box. But, like most things in life, choosing gender is not always as black and white as society would like.

On February 13, Facebook decided to shake up the notion of gender as a binary concept. Facebook users are no longer forced to select either “male” or “female” and the corresponding gender normative pronouns. Users can customize their gender to pangender, transgender, genderqueer, or any other of the 50 identifiers Facebook provided. The process also allows individuals to identify by male, female, or neutral pronouns.

Facebook Diversity announced, “When you come to Facebook to connect with the people, causes, and organizations you care about, we want you to feel comfortable being your true, authentic self. An important part of this is the expression of gender, especially when it extends beyond the definitions of just “male” or female.” So today, we’re proud to offer a new custom gender option to help you better express your own identity on Facebook…

We also have added the ability for people to control the audience with whom they want to share their custom gender. We recognize that some people face challenges sharing their true gender identity with others, and this setting gives people the ability to express themselves in an authentic way.”

From NBC News.

From NBC News.

Currently this option is only available for people using Facebook in U.S. English. The Facebook Diversity page received some valid questions – despite the switch to neutral pronouns, one woman still has to identify her genderqueer child as either son or daughter. Others point out that sexual preference still only exists as male, female, or both.

Speaking to the Associated Press, Human Rights Campaign President Chad Griffin said, “Over the past few years, a person’s Facebook profile truly has become their online identity, and now Facebook has taken a milestone step to allow countless people to more honestly and accurately represent themselves. Facebook’s action is one that I hope others heed in supporting individuals’ multifaceted identities.”

Normalizing varying gender identities on a widely used social platform opens the door for acceptance throughout society. Hopefully other platforms requiring gender identity information such as standardized tests, job applications, and driver’s licenses will follow suit.

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