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Transgender activists hail 'big advance' as Facebook expands gender options

You don’t have to be just male or female on Facebook anymore. The social media giant is adding a customizable option with about 50 different terms people can use to identify their gender, as well as three preferred pronoun choices: him, her or them.

Facebook said the changes, shared with the Associated Press before the launch on Thursday, initially cover the company’s 159 million monthly users in the US and are aimed at giving people more choices in how they describe themselves, such as androgynous, bi-gender, intersex, gender fluid or transsexual.

The software engineer who worked on this project is personally embarked on her journey of transition as a transwoman. Of course this is already giving the It's Not In The Bible crowd an attack of apoplexy.
“Of course Facebook is entitled to manage its wildly popular site as it sees fit, but here is the bottom line: it’s impossible to deny the biological reality that humanity is divided into two halves – male and female,” said Jeff Johnston, an issues analyst for Focus on the Family, an influential national religious organization based in Denver.
For this to come from a major manager of personal identity on the internet like Facebook, it is an admission that humans are just too complicated to fit snugly into the tidy little boxes that other people try to create for them.

This is what progress looks like.

Originally posted to Richard Lyon on Thu Feb 13, 2014 at 11:33 AM PST.

Also republished by TransAction and Good News.

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Comment Preferences

  •  This is how Facebook adds new functionality. (6+ / 0-)

    I joined in 2005 when I started college, back when it was universities-only and you had to have a university email address with only "supported" universities to register as a user.  There was no option to hide birthdate, so I set my birthday as 31 Dec 1999 as a joke.  Shortly thereafter I was banned from Facebook for being too young according to the TOS.  So I emailed them and explained that I was indeed 18 at the time but that I set that birthday because I had no option to hide mine, or any part of it like the year but leave the month and day, etc.  I was unbanned and Facebook added the option to partially or completely hide your birthday.

    It's just a shame it took them so long to update gender with a litany of options.  But it's not surprising to me that it takes someone making a concerted effect to add that functionality.  FB tends to add things people don't need when they sit around and think of what to add rather than things people want.

    "I don't want a unicorn. I want a fucking pegasus. And I want it to carry a flaming sword." -mahakali overdrive

    by Silvia Nightshade on Thu Feb 13, 2014 at 11:55:23 AM PST

  •  Thank you, Richard. (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Richard Lyon, koosah, Wee Mama, Ahianne

    I have a new diary, on a story out of Texas, coming out at 4pm.

  •  I think this is pretty good news. (5+ / 0-)

    Facebook, I've been told by my younger family members, is more and more becoming a medium populated by people in their late 30s to early 60s.  Younger folks have headed to Instagram, Snapchat and Twitter.  I know I and most of my FB "Friends" fit in this category quite well.    

    That said, if Facebook feels confident that their clients will be comfortable with these new options, I think that says something positive about how deep the changing attitudes actually are in our society.  LGBT acceptance is not just something being driven by the kids.  Their parents are right there with them.  

    That's good news!  


    Somebody told me that you had a boyfriend who looked a girlfriend that I had in February of last year.

    by koosah on Thu Feb 13, 2014 at 12:35:47 PM PST

  •  Good news! Republished - (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Richard Lyon, Ahianne

    Is it true? Is it kind? Is it necessary? . . . and respect the dignity of every human being.

    by Wee Mama on Thu Feb 13, 2014 at 04:01:35 PM PST

  •  Mixed feelings (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Wee Mama, Ahianne

    I go back & forth between wanting scads of choices like this, or at least want some trans-something choices even tho I don't think I would use them (altho here I identify as trans a lot as opposed to simply female), and thinking as you mentioned Richard that this is just another way for someone to try to monetize personally identifying information.  My RL friends don't need me to blurt out my gender because they know who I am.  I don't know how Facebook works really but I don't see my gender as mattering as an online presence.

    I will say this is at least a move forward.  All the forms through the years where I get stuck on the gender questions ("well, what is it?  M or F?) & I just wanted to quit right there or tell someone it wan't that simple.

    I do not demand tolerance, I demand equal rights. --Anna Grodzka

    by VeggiElaine on Thu Feb 13, 2014 at 04:03:50 PM PST

    •  Facebook promotes an illusion (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      of intimacy. It will be interesting to see what experiences people who use a non-traditional category have. There is a definite likelihood of harassment. I do see this as an acknowledgment that the traditional pigeon holes are no longer workable.

      Certainly everyone should be able to make their own choices about how they want to proclaim themselves. Personally, I am sufficiently perverse to choose none of the above.  

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