Facebook recently added more than 50 new gender options, including transgender and transsexual, to its profile settings for users who do not identify as male or female.
The social network giant announced the landmark changes on the Facebook Diversity page on Thursday, explaining that the tech company wants users to feel comfortable being their “true, authentic self. So far, 4,686 people have “liked” the announcement post.
“An important part of this is the expression of gender, especially when it extends beyond the definitions of just ‘male’ or ‘female’,” read the post. “So today, we’re proud to offer a new custom gender option to help you better express your own identity on Facebook.”
Although Facebook has not released a comprehensive list of all the gender choices now available (users must type in a gender and choose from an autosuggested drop-down list), Will Oremus at Slate has begun compiling a list of all the possible options, which includes:
- Agender: a person who is internally ungendered or does not have a felt sense of gender identity (some agender people would argue that agender is itself a gender identity)
- Androgynous: a person appearing and/or identifying as neither man nor woman, presenting a gender either mixed or neutral.
- Cis: a person who by nature or by choice conforms to the same gender/sex that they were assigned at birth.
- Intersex: a person whose biological sex is ambiguous.
The new set of gender options were chosen in collaboration with Network of Support, a group of leading LGBT advocacy organizations.
Not only can users now choose from several levels privacy for their gender option, (identical to the privacy options given to general profiles), but they can also determine what pronoun they would prefer for birthday wishes: ie. “Wish her a happy birthday” for females compared to “which them a happy birthday” for individuals who identify as gender neutral.
The hundreds of comments responding to the announcement post have polarized into positions of praise and rejection, with criticisms coming from both sides of the fence.
Regarding other gender-related areas of Facebook profile pages, one user wrote, “‘Interested in’ now needs to be fix [sic], it’s still only Female/Male.”
“There is still no option to identify my relationship with my queer/genderqueer child without selecting Son or Daughter, even after they changed their profile to neutral pronouns,” wrote another user.
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While these and other additional tweaks would provide a more well-rounded social experience for non-male and non-female users, the gender option changes that have been made thus far have undoubtably set a huge precedent.
“While to many this change may not mean much, for those it affects it means a great deal,” a Facebook spokesperson told Mashable. “We see this as one more way we can make Facebook a place where people can express their authentic identity.”
Gender setting changes can be made by clicking on the “About” section in a user’s profile page and selecting the Edit button in the upper-right hand corner of the “Basic Information” tab.
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